It was just last year when I finally got off my butt and bought a new webcam to serve as the Wambooli PorchCam. I wrote the programs and set it live. Now, almost six months later, I’ve modified the PorchCam yet again.
This new update, version 2.4, is in response to security concerns.
No, I haven’t been hacked — not that I know. But the old PorchCam was exposed on the Internet. I assigned it a dedicated IP and allowed all web traffic (through port 80) arriving on my router to flow through to the PorchCam. This setup allowed you to access the camera over the Internet, snap a picture, and control it’s tilt/pan/zoom features (though I never did figure out how the zoom worked).
The camera’s default web server password was changed before it went live. Even so, due to rising concerns about IP camera botnets, general probing, and curious hackers, I finally closed the port on my router and took the webcam offline. It’s no longer directly available on the Internet. That means you can’t control the tilt and pan, and the image you see is current, but not immediately-snapped.
The new software I wrote runs locally. A Unix shell script controls the process: The camera’s image is grabbed from the local network. That image is uploaded to this website where it’s massaged, slapped with a watermark, and then added to the PorchCam database. The script runs every three hours starting at 6AM and stopping at 9PM. That how the old DrivewayCam worked and how the PorchCam originally worked back in the early 2000s.
The PorchCam may not be as fun as it once was, but I feel better knowing that it’s more secure. The only downside is that when the local computer is down, the image isn’t updated. That seems like a minor price to pay for a little added security.
Visit the Wambooli PorchCam at http://www.wambooli.com/fun/live/