Baby Monitors Vulnerable to Hackers
Marc and Lauren Gilbert, Marc and Lauren Gilbert, parents of two children from Houston, Texas, experienced every parent’s greatest fear coming true – their 2-year-old daughter’s room was broken into by a stranger. Someone hacked their baby monitor and talked to their daughter while she was asleep.
Marc Gilbert told the ABC News that he heard a strange noise from his daughter’s room while washing the dishes after his birthday party. He immediately knew that something wasn’t right and together with his wife rushed to their daughter’s room. As they approached, they heard someone talking to their child, saying their sleeping daughter Allyson to wake up and cursing.
When he entered the room, he figured out that the voice is coming from the baby monitor which also included a camera. Marc immediately ran towards the monitor to unplug it. But before he finally unplugged it, he saw the camera rotating towards him, while the voice began shouting profanity at him and his wife. Someone was clearly controlling their baby monitor.
Father of the 2-year-old Allyson said his daughter is deaf and didn’t hear anything. He added that Allyson’s hearing impairment is somewhat a blessing in disguise because if she would hear the voice and shouting, it would have been a serious problem. The couple’s 3-year-old son Ethan didn’t hear the voice either and was woken up by his parents that night.
The Gilberts didn’t report the incident to the police and obviously shaken by the whole thing, didn’t feel comfortable telling the media about what happened to their family either. But they wanted to warn other parents about the risk of baby monitors being hacked. They also called their Internet service provider who advised them to check the passwords. But Marc told the ABC News that he and his wife left the monitor unplugged and said they probably won’t be using it again.
Parry Aftab, a specialist in Internet privacy and security law told the ABC News that break-ins like the one experienced by the Gilberts are very rare. But she also added that other people accessing baby monitors is a major concern. Aftab said Wi-Fi connected monitors should always be protected with a password which should be kept an absolute secret. Without a password, baby monitors can be accessed and controlled by anyone. Aftab also advised parents to be especially cautious with people who have access to their computers and passwords.
Dave Chronister from the Parameter Security who commented the story for CBS News said he thinks that the Gilberts were using a webcamera that was compromised. Chronister who said he is familiar with this kind of break-ins advised the use of strong passwords and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) which is more difficult to hack. He also said that behind these hacks are often kids who are just playing a prank although he also warned of the so-called wardriving or people driving around and searching for wireless networks with poor security.
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