Keep Your Baby Safe: Encrypted Video Monitors

April 16, 2013

 

video-monitor-safetyAfter realizing our baby video monitor was not secure, I made it my mission to find out which video monitors are private and which ones are not. You may be surprised to find out that some of the most popular baby video monitors aren’t encrypted and neighbors and strangers could be watching your baby.

Baby Safety and Video Monitors

We moved a few months ago and set up our Summer Infant video monitor in our daughter’s room. One night she was really cranky about going to bed so after I left her room, I turned on the video monitor to keep an eye on her.

When I turned it on, I just saw snow like what you see on a TV with no reception.

Safe Baby Video Monitor

Seeing A Neighbor’s Baby?

I figured I was on the wrong channel and was about to try Channel B when I realized I could see the outline of my daughter’s crib rails. I could not figure out why the reception was so bad. I flipped to Channel B to see if that would be better but I just saw more snow and a more visible outline of a crib. I checked the battery because I thought maybe the parent control was dying but it was fully charged. Then I realized I was looking at a crib with a crib soother and we have never owned one. Then I saw the outline of a baby move. I flipped back to Channel A and realized that it a second baby in a different crib from a different angle. I was looking at the cribs of two neighboring babies.

Needless to say, I was a little freaked out! I bet those neighbor’s would be pretty horrified to know strangers could see their little ones – and possibly themselves as they put their babies to sleep or got them up in the morning. My husband quickly figured out that our camera had been unplugged by accident which is why we didn’t see our daughter as expected.

I did a Google search and found an article by ABC entitled Baby Video Monitors Could Invite Burglars. It basically says that a lot of baby video monitors are not secure and anyone could buy a unit and drive around neighborhoods to pick up signals and see inside that house. Are the chances slim of this happening? Perhaps. However, I wouldn’t even feel comfortable with neighbors accidentally picking up our video feed.

Encrypted Video Monitors

We unplugged our video monitor and decided to buy a new one that is encrypted and private. I don’t want neighbors or strangers seeing inside our house and watching my child sleep or play.

Here are the encrypted video monitors I found on Amazon:

  1. Infant Optics Digital Video Baby MonitorInfant Optics Video Monitor This is the # 1 best selling baby video monitor on Amazon right now and it is $99 most of the time. It states that “Using FHSS technology, each camera securely transmits encrypted video and audio data to your monitor unit. You can be rest assured that no one else is viewing your video or audio feed.”
  2. VTech Safe and Sounds Full Color Video and Audio Monitor Encrypted Video Monitor by VtechThe description for this monitor states that “In addition, all transmissions are encrypted for your privacy.”
  3. Levana Safe ‘n See Digital Video Wireless Baby Monitor Levana Baby Video MonitorThe description for this video monitor was a little tricky because it states “100% Private Connection” but didn’t use the word encrypted or explain what that meant. So I headed over to the Levana website and the only thing I could find was that it uses Digital FHSS technology. FHSS technology is what the Infant Optics uses and they promise no one else can see or hear your video monitor feed so I guess this one is a good choice as well. However, you might want to contact the company to double check since they really don’t state it clearly on their website.
  4. Lorex LIVE Wireless Video Home Monitor Lorex home video monitor This one is interesting because you can use Skype to view your baby or house from anywhere in the world. I would appreciate this as a pet owner because I would like to check up on my cat when I am out of town, even though I have a great cat sitter. The key words in the description of this monitor are “Monitor your home with confidence knowing the wireless digital video signal is secure, private, and can’t be picked up by unwanted neighbors.” Fantastic!
  5. Motorola Wireless Video MonitorMotorola baby video monitor This baby video monitor is one of the most popular ones but according to the description, only the audio data is encrypted. “The Motorola MBP33 encrypts the audio data it transfers for added security and peace of mind.” However, it also mentions FHSS technology and data encryption so I am really unsure about this one. The Motorola website doesn’t mention anything about privacy. I am going to try and contact Motorola and find out.

Update: I originally had this monitor on the list below but according to the Motorola FAQs, this monitor is secure. Motorola states that “the signal transmitted between the baby unit and parent unit is digitally secure and therefore safe from unauthorized access.”

 Video Monitors That Might NOT Be Encrypted

  1. Summer Infant Baby Touchsummer infant baby touch video monitor Summer Infant is the brand of our monitor although it is a model that is no longer sold. This is probably the best known brand of video monitor but the Baby Touch description said nothing to make me feel safe enough to buy it. Nothing about FHSS, or encryption. All it says is, “For a secure and private connection, the BabyTouch Digital Color Video Monitor operates on 100 percent digital technology.” That is NOT good enough for me.
  2. Summer Infant Secure Sight Video Monitor Summer Infant Secure Sight Handheld Color Video Monitor Not only does this video monitor have only 3 stars and a higher price tag than the Infant Optics – it says absolutely nothing about privacy.
  3. Fisher Price Take-Along Cam Video Monitor – This video monitor mentions nothing about privacy or security either. fisher price take along cam video monitor

Research, Research, Research

I am not an expert on technology or baby video monitors. I just want to make sure that I buy a product that will keep my family safe and give us our privacy. I will update this article as I learn more and it is possible that I have missed something. Please do your own research before choosing a baby video monitor. If you are unsure about the safety features of a product, call or email the company. If you know something I do not – please leave a comment or email me at [email protected]!

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda April 21, 2013

Ok. This post is awesome. It’s been on my to-do list as far as a post on my site. I saw a 20/20 on this. Great info. I can’t believe the popular brands have not addressed this.

Dealaholic April 28, 2013

I can’t believe it either. Thankfully there are some good choices for safe video monitors but I know a lot of parents have no idea about this. We haven’t used our monitor since – I am sure our neighbor’s are nice but I don’t want them seeing inside our house that’s for sure!

Erica May 2, 2013

Hope this helps with the post. The Moterola monitor is safe.

FREQUENCY HOPPING SPREAD SPECTRUM
Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) derives from military radio technology where it
was designed to be secure and reliable under adverse battle conditions. FHSS changes the
frequency of a transmission at intervals faster than an intruder can retune a jamming device. With
FHSS, the bandwidth is divided into multiple frequency channels. Once a wireless connection
is established and time-synchronization is gained, the receiver and transmitter agree on one
of practically infinite frequency hopping sequences. These sequences are both encrypted and
time-dependant. Based on the current time and a mathematical calculation, both the receiver
and transmitter hop to the next frequency channel in the sequence at the same time. Unless
the system time, the system encryption key and the proper calculation are all known, the
communication cannot be tracked. As a result, unauthorized interception of, or eavesdropping
on, a communication is virtually impossible

Dealaholic May 2, 2013

Hey Erica, thanks for your comment! Can you tell me where you read that the Motorola monitor uses FHSS for video? From what I am reading – the FHSS is only in regards to audio. The only time the description on Amazon mentions encryption it says, “The Motorola MBP33 encrypts the audio data it transfers”. But I am more worried about the video!

Alicia Krop May 2, 2013

Looking at Motorola’s website and their FAQ documents – they indicate that the signal is digitally secure. This would lead me to believe that both the audio and video are secure. It specifically states it is safe from unauthorized use.

Dealaholic May 2, 2013

Thanks Alicia! I checked out the FAQ file and this is what I found:

“Is the signal between the parent unit and the baby unit
secure?

Yes, the signal transmitted between the baby unit and parent unit is digitally secure and therefore safe from unauthorized access.”

I wish they were a little more specific only because I am so distrusting of companies these days but I would have to conclude the Motorola video monitor is encrypted. I will update my blog post.

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