Imagine the horror of two parents hearing the voice of stranger echoing their young child’s name through a baby monitor. This was the chilling reality of Texas parents Marc and Lauren Gilbert when the baby monitor in their 2-year-old daughter Allyson’s room was hacked.
The baby monitor, hooked to the Gilbert’s home wireless Internet system, was discovered to be operating on its own when the parents could hear the voice of a man disturbingly communicating sexually explicit words to the sleeping toddler. The hacker was even able to spy on the child through the control of the monitor’s camera, where he attempted to wake the 2-year-old by reading her name from a wall.
With panic, the Gilbert’s quickly pulled the device.
“At that point I ran over and disconnected it,” said the father. “[I] tried to figure out what happened. I couldn’t see the guy.”
Luckily, the child was not disturbed by the hacker due to her born deafness. But the parents have worryingly questioned the possibility of whether there have been previous incidents of the hacker spying on their child through the baby monitor before, unbeknownst to the family.
Using such devices through wireless systems could be dangerous, and hacking into such devices used through these systems is as easy as breaking into a website, says Dave Chronister, a managing partner of Parameter Security.
“The thing to understand is,” says Chronister, “Not all hackers have pointed at you as a target. You just happened to have a device that they know how to hack, so they hack it.” He notes that most hackers are just deliberate pranks being pulled, a term referred to as “wardriving”, where said pranksters drive around neighborhoods scoping out weak wireless systems.
He recommends using a Wi-Fi protected password to guard your privacy, due to its better encryption codes making it much more difficult for hackers to break.
“Make sure you punch in a password and make sure it’s long,” Chronister said.
Still, the Gilbert’s are looking to ditching the baby monitor device all together in fears of further home violation of their family.
“I don’t think it ever will be connected again,” said the father. “I think we are going to do without the baby monitor now.”
The shaken parents want others to be aware of these dangers regarding hackers and the use of baby monitors to protect their families from potential outside threats.
Written by Annie Elizabeth Martin