On Sunday night, a Texas family says a man hacked into their baby cam and threatened to kidnap their 4-month-old son. Fortunately, in this case, the infant was unharmed, but the disturbing incident has parents wondering: Could it happen to me?
The answer is yes—but only if you’re using a monitor that’s connected to Wi-Fi, like the Rigney family was with their Nest camera system.
According to Ellen Rigney, she and husband Nathan were sleeping when they heard sexual expletives coming from the monitor connected to son Topper’s room. She recalled, “Immediate reaction was that there’s somebody in here, somebody’s in my son’s room! How did they get in there?!”
As the couple jumped out of bed, they heard a voice coming through the camera in their own bedroom, saying “‘I’m going to kidnap your baby. I’m in your baby’s room.'” But when they found Topper safely sleeping in his crib, Rigney realized they had been hacked.
“We just had to figure out how to get (the Wi-Fi) shut down, and shut down fast!” explained Rigney. “I kept telling [Nathan], he’s not in here, somebody’s hacking this!” After turning off their Wi-Fi, they immediately notified the Harris County police.
“It’s unnerving and unsettling,” Rigney said of the incident. “Something that is supposed to make you feel better and instead it makes you feel the opposite, it makes you feel invaded and uncomfortable.”
While Rigney says she threw away her wireless cameras (and will only be using a closed-circuit camera now), Nest assures parents that there are ways to use a Wi-Fi baby monitor safely.
“We are proactively alerting affected customers to reset their passwords and set up two-factor authentication, which adds another layer of account security,” the company advised in a statement, adding that they have “seen instances where Nest customers have reused passwords that were previously exposed through breaches on other websites and made public.”