By Alex Merton-McCann, Cybermum Australia at McAfee

Baby monitors have long been an essential part of any parent’s toolkit, giving peace of mind that the little one is safely and soundly asleep. And these super handy devices seemingly get smarter ever year, with many monitors now not only connecting to Wi-Fi but offering cameras, motion detectors and room thermometers – all of which can be accessed through your mobile phone, of course!

While there are undeniable benefits to using smart baby monitors, it’s essential new parents truly understand these new ‘must have’ devices to avoid putting their family’s security at risk.

Alex Merton-McCann, Cybermum Australia at McAfee

Cyber security expert, Alex Merton-McCann shares her tips to help keep your baby monitor secure.

Late last year many parents were horrified to learn that a cybercriminal was able to speak directly to a child in the US in her bedroom taking advantage of a vulnerability in a Ring Smart Home Security System.

This month, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has warned that baby monitors are able to be watched over the internet by default. These stories serve as a stark reminder that it is critical that we find a balance between convenience and security.

So, if you want the best of both worlds – and who doesn’t – simply follow the simple tips below to secure your smart baby monitors.

Baby monitor security

A few simple steps and you can ensure you’re the only one keeping an eye on your kids.

1. Check the device’s security track record

Never underestimate the power of a quick web search to ensure you are buying from a reputable brand with security standards. And always read product reviews to see if any security issues have been reported in the past.

2. Change default settings, use strong passwords, and enable two-factor authentication

Default and weak passwords are the biggest threat to your smart baby monitor as they are incredibly easy for hackers to bypass – in fact, reports stated that this is how the notorious Ring smart camera hack was executed.

Simply go into the product settings (general and advanced) and create a unique, strong password with phrases, special characters, mixed cases, and digits to make it difficult for cybercriminals to guess. If you can, enable two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security that verifies your identity through another personal device like a mobile phone.

WATCH: A review of Uniden’s smart baby cameras. Continues after video …

3. Keep your devices up to date

Most software updates come with a patch to protect your device from recently discovered security threats, so make sure you set up auto-update wherever possible to ensure the device always has the best possible protection.

4. Turn it off

Finally, if you’re not using the baby monitor, turn it off and unplug it. This will ensure that no matter what safeguards you have in place hackers won’t have the opportunity to access the device.

As a mum of four, I am all for seeking out the best parenting hacks and a ‘whizz bang’ baby monitor is just that. So, don’t start selling your monitors on eBay people, simply take some time to put the right measures in place to protect yourself and your new bundle of joy and get that monitor working for you.