In a bone-chilling incident, a couple in the US was left stunned when a hacker broke into their connected home and started talking to them via camera, played vulgar music on the video system in the living room and even turned thermostat to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (over 32 degrees Celsius).
According to Fox6 News, the incident happened with a Milwaukee (Wisconsin)-based couple who felt anything but safe after a hacker took over their smart home. Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland realized something was seriously wrong when they began to hear a voice via a camera in the kitchen. “My heart was racing. I felt so violated at that point”, Samantha was quoted as saying.
The couple had installed a Google Nest system (camera, doorbell and thermostat) in their house in 2018. On September 17, Samantha came home and found that the thermostat had been turned up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. She fixed it but the thermostat continued to go up, and a voice began speaking to the couple from a camera in the kitchen. The hacker later started playing vulgar music from the video system in the living room.
Changing their passwords did not help. The couple later spoke to their Internet service provider and got their network ID changed. The Westmoreland had spent $700 for the Google Nest system at home. The Google Nest system generally offers thermostat, cameras, doorbell, alarm system, lock and smoke + CO alarm. “It gives me the chills just talking about it”, said Samantha.
The Milwaukee couple are not alone. In January, a hacker took over an Illinois-based Indian-American couple’s Nest cameras and began talking to their toddler. “I was shocked to hear a deep, manly voice talking. My blood ran cold”, Arjun Sud told WBBM-TV. The hacker also hurled obscenities at Sud and his wife. Sud disconnected the cameras and contacted Nest which told him to use two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security. A California-based family also had a chilling experience when someone used their Nest camera’s speaker to warn of an impending missile strike from North Korea.
A Google spokesperson told FOX6 News: “Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites). In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk”. With 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices expected to be in place by 2025, the cyber security concerns are only going to be increased with more and more homes being connected.