The Internet Of Everything (IOE) or the Internet of Things (IOT) is allowing the world to connect across the planet in real time from multiple devices which can have any manner of functions including cameras. Combine this with some moral turpitude and the end results is going to see newspaper headlines like that below:
This headline caught our attention and we would suspect its more prevalent than many people suspect. Human nature dictates that a sad number of individuals will engage in voyeurism or worse, commercializing or distributing the content of unsuspecting individuals. With the massive increase in private accommodation now being let on the internet and the need for WiFi access, the low price of connected webcams, there is a strong likelihood of this happening somewhere in the world, right now!
Most mainstream cameras are connected to the Internet these days and not standalone devices with recording machines as you may see on television in detective movies at the local garage. These IP cameras are generally connected via Ethernet cables to a port on the router or via a wireless connection to the router. If you can see what is connected you can make an educated guess as to what hardware is installed in the holiday home. This may be an Amazon Alexa, a Sonos music system, a games console, a computer, laptop, phone or even a hidden camera! Or it could be an outdoor camera there to provide security.
If you research how to find hidden cameras there is no end of devices that profess to find them. Use Amazon or Alibaba or eBay and the array of lens detection or spy research tools is endless. Some are Radio Frequency scanners, some you need to turn the lights off and use a lighting system to see the lens reflections. This article explains a lot of ways to detect a hidden camera.
No doubt the smart and techy individuals who are up to no good, can probably fool most common detector devices, but the sheer numbers of connections and ease of purchase and connectivity of webcams point to opportunists using basic tech with little real knowledge of its workings.
MAC Addresses: I’m not going to profess to know any detail on this subject but each connected hardware device will have one. If you would like to read more try Wikipedia. If each device has a MAC address and each is connected, the simple theory is that you should be able to identify what is connected to the wireless network in that location. Not so simple of course as not everything is registered and MAC addressed can be spoofed. This article explains in more detail the MAC issues.
MAC addresses can also be traced to a manufacturer and there are lots of websites that provide this information.
Find the Camera using the “Fing App”
We have discovered this to be a very useful tool to detect directly connected devices. It will not work if the camera is connected to a computer first (you will see a primary device connected, however), but if this is wirelessly connected directly to the router and streaming, then it will find the device. If the camera is simply storing data on a chip and not actively connected to the network, then it won’t find it. Your best bet is to use your eyes, switch off the lights, switch on your phone’s flashlight and see if can see light reflecting off a lens.
Simply download, connect to the wireless network and scan for devices. It also has a number of other tools such as a speed test, the ability to block, MAC address and often a description of the device.
The screenshot below shows an IP camera connected to the network. Alerts can be set to show a status change too.
If you cannot tell what the device is, then you can check the MAC address from a manufacturers list, but this will not give the product details. The IP camera shown above is from China and if there is any truth in the rumour, these devices may be susceptible to all manner of hacks and controls!
NOTE: You need to be aware that you may be seeing devices essential to your enjoyment you do not recognize such as entertainment systems etc. Do not assume all are listening or video devices although we have been asked if it can detect other monitoring devices such as NoiseAware to prevent parties or WiFi fire alarms etc.