Millions of parents invest in child camera monitors to watch their children safely throughout the night. Imagine the horror you would feel, the stabbing pain of panic as you hear a male voice cascade over that monitor. You hear the voice aiming profane language at your sleeping toddler and rush into the room to disconnect the equipment, heart racing as you scramble to recover any data leading to the aggressor. This brief nightmare came true for one Texas family.
Marc Gilbert was completing house chores with his wife, the house quiet for the evening when a menacing voice screeched over their daughter’s baby monitor. Gilbert spoke to ABC News, who reported the following:
“Right away I knew something was wrong,” he told ABC News.
As he and his wife got closer to the room, they heard the voice calling his daughter an “effing moron,” and telling her,”‘wake up you little slut.”
The hacker then began shouting expletives at her parents and calling Gilbert a stupid moron and his wife a b****.
“At that point I ran over and disconnected it and tried to figure out what happened,” said Gilbert. “[I] Couldn’t see the guy. All you could do was hear his voice and [that] he was controlling the camera.”
Anger hit across the nation, outrage at such an obscene act against a small family, and especially against a 2-year-old girl who also happens to be deaf. One assessment one can agree with is what Gilbert stated to ABC News, “It’s somewhat of a blessing. If she had heard it it would have been a big problem.” The device was connected to the family’s Wi-Fi network, and families across America became alert to the danger of technology that involves their children.
CBS interviewed Dave Chronister who manages Parameter Security, and although the security professional did not have an opportunity to sit down with the jarred family, he did share his expertise:
“In this case, what it sounds like is that they set this camera up, and someone cracked into the wireless network,” Chronister told CBSNews.com.
Chronister says that cracking into these webcams is similar to breaking into a website. If a password is not set, or is weak, the website that is used to manage the device can be compromised.
Chronister provided advice as every tech professional would; install a strong password. Avoid birthdates, children’s name, anything that can be gleaned from social media profiles. Security comes with encrypted standards, you can boost that with a password that is not considered weak. Implement capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols to dispel hackers from interfering in your life, your privacy or bringing fear into your home.
Forbes reported interesting information on the camera the family used, and offers the following advice:
Looking at the footage taken by ABC News, it appears that Gilbert was using a Foscam wireless camera. That may have been the problem, as a vulnerability in that product was disclosed by security researchers just months ago in a presentation titled “To watch or to be watched: Turning your surveillance camera against you.”
Gilbert for now has removed the apparatus from his daughter’s room, but this tosses in questions who can access items in your home. With the progression of smart homes and camera technology, homeowners may have to take drastic steps to further protect their children. Gilbert has no clue who the male voice belonged to. Or who could ever scream obscenities at his sleeping deaf daughter. Further yet is understanding why anyone would want to hack into a baby monitor. This is a risk factor brought to surface that can help millions of parents determine alternative methods of oversight.