Man Hacks Ring Camera Telling 8-Year-Old "I'm Santa Claus"
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
December 12, 2019
While having a camera in your home to help monitor your children sounds like a great idea, multiple reports of those camera systems being hacked could have people rethinking installing those types of security systems inside their homes.
Owners of Ring security cameras in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Texas have all reported incidents in which their Ring cameras were hacked, allowing outsiders to torment their families with racial slurs and encourage some of the children to engage in destructive behaviors. One incident has seen the hacker demand a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin.
One recent incident involved the LeMay family, of Memphis, who said they installed the device to keep an eye on their daughters. However, a few days after installing the security camera, the family said a hacker managed to gain access to their security system and talk to their 8-year-old girl. Video of the incident shows the 8-year-old standing in her room, asking, "Who is that?"
A man can be heard responding that he's her "best friend."
"I'm Santa Claus. Don't you want to be my best friend?" the voice says and encourages her to "do whatever you want."
"I don't know who you are," the girl responds to the voice. The hacker also played music for the girl and told her to mess up her room and destroy her television.
At that point, the girl screams for her mother.
In a statement to iHeartMedia, Ring said they've investigated the issue and had no evidence of an unauthorized intrusion or compromise on Ring's system or network.
"Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. Our security team has investigated this incident and we have no evidence of an unauthorized intrusion or compromise of Ring’s systems or network," the statement read.
"Recently, we were made aware of an incident where malicious actors obtained some Ring users’ account credentials (e.g., username and password) from a separate, external, non-Ring service and reused them to log in to some Ring accounts. Unfortunately, when the same username and password is reused on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts.
"Upon learning of the incident, we took appropriate actions to promptly block bad actors from known affected Ring accounts and affected users have been contacted. Consumers should always practice good password hygiene and we encourage Ring customers to change their passwords and enable two-factor authentication."
This isn't the first report of a security camera being hacked by a malicious party. Last month, a family in Florida said someone hacked their Ring device and began spewing racial slurs at their 15-year-old son. The family shut off the device after removing the batteries from the camera.
"I was scared... I was scared. I didn't know who that is, how long he'd been watching us and I'm still scared now because I don't have any answers," Josefine Brown told WBBH in Fort Meyers.
Another family in Seattle said a hacker managed to take control of their wireless baby monitor and use it to talk to their three-year-old daughter.
"We were both downstairs working in our office here, and our daughter called out," the girl's mother, Jo, told KING-TV. "She's saying, 'Mommy, mommy.' She said the voice is talking to me."
When both parents went upstairs to see what their daughter was talking about, they learned that a man had spoken to her through the camera.
“She said the 'voice is talking to me,'” Jo recalled. “I said, 'the voice is talking to you, what’s going on?' And she said the man said, ‘Jayden, I love you.’ And I said, 'what?'"
Security experts say people who own security camera systems should always ensure their apps and software are up to date and create a separate Wi-Fi network for your video surveillance cameras. It's also recommended that when people to use a difficult password that you haven't used before and to change it often.
Photo: Getty Images