When you buy a security camera, your last thought is that it could be used to make your home less secure. But that’s exactly what happened to Ashley LeMay in Mississippi after she installed a Ring camera in her daughter’s room to act as a nanny cam.
To her horror, the device was hacked, and a malicious actor began speaking with her daughter through the camera.
LeMay, who has three daughters, installed a Ring-brand nanny cam in her youngest daughter’s room. The eight-year-old was shocked when she began to hear strange sounds coming from the camera device. She told her mother she was hearing clapping or thudding from the device, as well as eerie music. LeMay at first hoped this was just some kind of glitch.
However, when a man’s voice came through the camera and asked the girl to be his “best friend,” claiming to be “Santa Claus,” the eight-year-old went screaming for her mom. LeMay, thoroughly freaked out at the idea of a hacker spying on her young daughters, contacted Ring, as well as the local authorities and local news stations.
Ring, which is owned by Amazon, sells video doorbells and cameras that connect to the internet. The internet connection allows the camera’s owners to watch the video feed remotely, as well as communicate with people who are near the camera. Since it has a microphone, two-way communication is possible, but only the person in front of the camera can be seen.
The person using the camera, of course, can’t be seen. This is where the risk of hackers comes into play. If a bad actor gets their hands on your account information, they can watch through the eyes of your camera and listen through the ears of your microphone.
While the hacker in the LeMay’s case blew his own cover by talking, many hackers could just as easily stay quiet, never alerting the homeowners to the fact that there’s an intruder watching them.
The best way to prevent this would be to use strong passwords, and don’t repeat passwords and usernames between different services. It’s also a good idea to regularly change your Ring login password, just in case!