While researching computer & tech investigations, hwich my novel is about, I stumbled across headlines for baby-cam intrusions.

My premise would be that someone hacks the baby-cam of the prince of the country which is used so his father who is very busy can glance at his royal baby when he feels like (the mother died).

I've already seen CSI: Cyber during my research, but all the comments say that it's full of inaccuracies, which I would like to avoid. More precisely it would be about how to find the right places and forums to seek technical information about this.

My question is: How to research what kind of evidence such an intrusion would leave from the procedure and different watch devices?

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    What do you mean by "traces"? If it were me, I'd ignore the deep technical details of the system and focus on the characters and plot. Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 20:49
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    I don't want to write about deep technical details, but when the tech says to the inspectors that "the culprit left X on the server" or whatever, it sounds plausible. Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 21:03
  • I think I understand. "Traces" are bits of evidence left behind from the surveillance procedures. Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 21:05
  • @KenMohnkern Yes, exactly. I'm really trying to research what kind of real evidences a culprit would leave that the investigators could be told about, so that I don't make true computer techs cringe from the innacuracy. Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 21:09
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    You're going to need to research the baby-cams themselves to see how they work. If they're communicating over Wifi to the outside web so that parents can view them anywhere, then there are a number of ways they could be hacked and a number of ways the hackers could leave traces. The baby-cam of a prince? It's likely going to be a lot more secure than just a consumer level baby-cam like the Nest. Web cams in general have been hackable for a LONG time and there's a lot of information out there about that kind of thing. Take responsibility for your own research.
    – DoWhileNot
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 21:48

3 Answers 3


I think most baby monitors work with radio signals. Those would be very easy to hack: get close enough with a radio device that is tunable to the right frequencies, then scan through frequencies until you hear the signal. I'm sure you could look up somewhere what frequencies are allocated to such devices. Then someone with a little skill in electronics could modify an ordinary radio to receive the proper frequencies.

As far as I know there's no way to tell who has listened to a radio signal. There's no electronic trace that would be left.

The main trick I see would be that you'd have to get close enough to pick up the signal. These devices deliberately have a short range -- so that they don't interfere with each other. I just checked some ads and saw advertised ranges generally around several hundred feet. You might get caught because someone saw your car sitting in front of their house or that sort of thing. If you're talking about a prince, he likely has a big piece of property, so getting close enough to the house to pick up a signal might be an issue. If you have to break into the grounds to get close enough to the transmitter, obviously that creates all sorts of dangers of getting caught.

Some baby monitors encrypt the signal, presumably exactly to prevent others from listening in like this. In that case, you've have to somehow discover the encryption key. I don't have any idea how sophisticated the encryption is, so I can't say how hard it is to crack. Someone like a prince, who presumably has valid fears of kidnapping or assassination or just paparazzi, might well get a baby monitor that encrypts the signal. I'd assume that to a prince the extra cost would be a trivial issue.

If the baby monitor is an internet device, it's a whole different story. I don't know what sort of security they have on internet baby monitors, whether they have passwords or whatever. But let's just talk about hacking internet devices in general. There are basically three ways (I can think of) to hack it.

Method one: Connect to his network. If it's a Wifi network, you can make the physical connection from outside the house as long as you're in range of the signal. If the prince has no security on his wifi, this would be trivial. Hopefully he's not that foolish. Assuming he has a password or some such to connect to his network, you'd have to crack that.

If you gain access that way, his router should keep some record of accesses. Some routers keep long logs, but any router will keep track of any device that connected to the network. So if they checked, they'd know that someone connected. They'd know what IP his router assigned to you, but that's useless information. They'd know the machine ID of the device you used to connect. If someone had a registry somewhere of what machine IDs were sold to who, maybe they could track you down. I don't know if anyone keeps this information.

If he doesn't have a wifi network but relies on wired connections, you'd have to physically connect to his lines. That presumably involves breaking into his house.

Method two: Connect over the Internet. This assumes that the baby monitor is accessible from outside the local network, but I guess if you're going to have an internet baby monitor, the idea is so that you can check on the baby while away from home.

In that case you again have to gain access to his network, presumably enter some passwords or something. In this case his ISP and your ISP will have logs of the connection. They can track down your IP and probably determine your physical address. I presume that clever criminals have come up with ways to beat this: run messages through long, hard-to-trace routes or some such. There are "anonymizer services" created to let people hide their internet identity. The service would know who you really are, and if they're subpoenaed I presume they'd have to turn over the information. But if they're not in the same country, maybe they'd just say no.

Method three: Sniff the lines. That is, intercept the signals travelling over the internet and listen in. I don't know how to actually do this, but I know it's done. Presumably if you do it right you leave no trace, because, like listening in on a radio signal, you're not sending any messages, you're just listening to someone else's messages.

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    Thank you very much for this answer. I will check further on those technics to see further how this is carried out law-wise ! Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 15:55

What you are asking about are computer forensics which is where us geeks are tasked with figuring out what went wrong after the fact. There is so much to know that for story telling purposes it might simply be best to have a wise lab geek say:

I won't bore you with the details, we are waiting on legal for an address but it looks like the intruder might have been based in [Rough Location]

A lot of the time, prosecuting a hack boils down to identifying an IP address and then using the courts to subpoena the name, address and telephone number of the bill payer from the ISP. So work with that and let the technical expert keep the details to himself somewhat.

For more information on computer forensics:

You might find something in that lot that could inspire your imagination. But failing that, there are ways to have technical information given to a non-technical character without knowing the specifics.

The lab guy kept talking but all Bill was hearing was gobbledygook.

"Anyway," said Mr Labman, "Here's the address."

How much you want to make that a feature of the story depends on you as a writer. The take away is you might not need to know all that much about something to have it feature in a story. If something is a mystery to you let it be a mystery to your protagonist too.

You can also simply have the protagonist elsewhere when the technical conversation starts.

Bill came into the room with a frown on his face. "What's going on," he asked.

"Please don't make him repeat all that," begged Sam. "Long story short, we have an address."

"Let's go," said Bill. "You can explain on the way."

I'm not suggesting you avoid all technical explanation. The story needs to be believable but sometimes it pays to have one non-technical person explain the details to another non-technical person. Then, anything you get wrong was actually the non-expert getting it wrong and was really ("honest") character portrayal.

I hope that helps.

Update: This is pretty much what happened recently: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/security-camera-hack-in-childrens-bedroom_uk_57adc7f6e4b01f97d8f296e4?vue8bq8vuyqy9cnmi&

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    Great answer. I like it that you turned this back to writing techniques.
    – DoWhileNot
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 18:48
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    Thank you very much for all these great hints and for the links. I am definitely going to read all those references carefully. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 15:50

Can I suggest you research hacking things like electric road signs, wifi toasters, etc.? I did read an article about all the different types of devices that had been hacked, how it was done and the sort of evidence that is left. (I can't find that article but this one should get you started.) You could look at security posts about the Internet of Things on sites like dzone.com.

The easiest, from your point of view, way to get access would be to get the password. Then the traces would be how they got the password.

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