Reports that creeps and other nefarious characters have been spying on babies by hacking baby monitor webcams have prompted New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs to issue a public alert to parents.
The agency on Wednesday urged consumers to make sure that their Internet-connected video baby monitors are secure.
"Video monitors are intended to give parents peace of mind when they are away from their children but the reality is quite terrifying — if they aren't secure, they can provide easy access for predators to watch and even speak to our children," said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin said in a statement.
Menin said there have been "numerous" reports in New York and elsewhere of baby-monitoring devices being infiltrated by bad guys. In some cases, frightened parents said they discovered strangers talking to their babies in the middle of the night through hacked monitors.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has issued subpoenas to four manufactures of video monitors as part of an investigation into the security vulnerabilities of the devices, a department spokeswoman told NBC News. Because the investigation is ongoing, no names or details are being released, the spokeswoman said.
Meantime, the department is recommending that parents make sure to buy a secure device, use a strong password and change it regularly, register the product and keep the software updated, and turn the device off when not in use.