Hackers Target Baby Monitors, Terrify Families
May 4, 2014

Hackers Target Baby Monitors, Terrify Families

It was a combination of two of the most frightening things somebody could think of. One, a mysterious, abstract presence entering your home, projecting voices from God knows where, and moving objects without touching them. And two, your child being targeted in a hostile way while sleeping in their bed.

This is what happened to a family from Ohio. Because the speaker and camera on their baby monitor were connected to the Internet, hackers were able to target them, presumably with the intention of disturbing the family because they thought it would be amusing. If the extent of one’s imagination is being a bit obnoxious, or worse psychologically damaging, because that’s a bit naughty and you’re not supposed do it, maybe it is amusing. They could wrack their brains and think of one of the billions of other ways one can be funny without relying on being ‘outrageous’ and hurting people, though.

Heather Schreck awoke when she heard a strange man’s voice. She checked the baby monitor camera on her phone and found that it was moving. “About the time I saw it moving, I also heard a voice again start screaming at my daughter. He was screaming, ‘Wake up baby. Wake up baby.’ Then just screaming at her trying to wake her up,” Fox19 reported Heather as saying. At that point her husband Adam flew into the bedroom to tend to his terrified daughter, and the camera was turned on him. The hackers then verbally abused him. Our teachers and our mommies and daddies told us not to do stuff like that, you see, so when we do it it’s hilarious because we are rebelling.

A Texas family had a similarly unpleasant experience when their two-year-old had obscene language shouted at her while she slept. And as NBC reported, “One Illinois man sued the manufacturer of a baby monitoring system after learning a neighbor, using the same system, could see into the baby’s room, including his wife breastfeeding.” Such incidents have led to widespread criticism that baby monitors are nowhere near secure enough.

Wired suggested some ways for helping make a monitoring device more secure, namely: register the device, turn on your firewall and change the device’s default login settings, including the default password. They argue, though, that it’s best “not to buy a dedicated Internet-connected baby monitor. These $200 cameras are wastes of money.” They say that an IP camera and smartphone apps can do the same job for less than half the price. But for those who already invested in the more expensive option, Wired’s three simple steps can help towards the fairly reasonable goal of raising a child without unscrupulous weirdos using him or her as a means of proving how side-splitting they are, or how much of a whiz they are with computers.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on Amazon.com.

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