Security cameras in homes and businesses around the world are vulnerable to hackers because their owners have not changed the default password, a fact which a Russian website has exploited to create a browsable index of live streams.
By visiting the website the Telegraph was able to watch workers going about their business in offices, warehouses and factories and people relaxing in their own homes.
This is a useful ability, but also one that is open to abuse if a strong password is not used.
Many people choose to leave the default password in place when they buy the devices – something which is exploitable by people who scan the internet for such devices and attempt to log in.
The Russian website pulls together streams from those devices and lists them in an index by country and location.
The Telegraph was able to see: • An elderly woman asleep in bed in Wakefield • Children watching television in living rooms and several baby's cots • A man making a cup of tea in his kitchen in Norwich • A mechanic's workshop in London • An empty living room in Acton • Customers paying for items at a newsagents on Baker Street in London • Treadmills at a gym in Manchester • The bar at a pub in Marlow The website even appears to be turning a profit, as it runs advertising on each page.
Several reputable companies are being advertised and even Essex Police have a recruitment ad running on it.
A spokesperson for the force said: "As part of our recruitment campaign we worked with a company to use digital advertising to reach out to our target audience within Essex.
We were advised security measures were in place to avoid adverts appearing on inappropriate sites.
As soon as we were aware of the placement of the advert the campaign was ceased with immediate effect." The anonymous creator of the website - which the Telegraph has chosen not to link to - said online that "This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings.
To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password.
"This site now contains access only to cameras without a password and it is fully legal." But the UK government disagrees, and is now keen to shut the site down - something which may prove difficult as it is registered in an offshore territory administered by Australia.
Information commissioner Christopher Graham said on Radio 4’s Today this morning: “I want the Russians to take this down straight away”.