A family in Tennessee says that a man hacked into their Amazon Ring security camera to talk to an 8-year-old girl in her bedroom.
Ashley LeMay of Memphis said she bought a Ring security camera for Black Friday, but now plans to get rid of it after a hacker accessed the camera to tell her daughter he’s Santa Claus. WMC first reported the story.
A man reportedly accessed the camera in her daughter’s room to play “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” (a song used in many horror films) and told the girl through the camera’s speaker, “I’m your best friend … I’m Santa Claus.”
He also told her, “You can do whatever you want right now. You can mess up your room. You can break your TV. You can do whatever you want.”
Ring’s security camera has HD video, night vision, and a two-way talk feature, so the hacker was most likely able to not only talk to LeMay’s daughter but also see her.
“They could have watched them sleeping, changing. I mean, they could have seen all kinds of things,” LeMay told WMC. “Honestly, my gut, it makes me feel like it’s either somebody who knows us or somebody who is very close by.”
Digital Trends reached out to the DeSoto County Police Department to find out if anyone has been charged in the incident, and we’ll update this story once we hear back.
LeMay did say she did not set up the two-factor authentication for the Ring camera. The authentication adds another level of security on Ring devices to protect against hackers.
It’s not the first example of a Ring camera being hacked to talk to people. Vice reports that there’s an entire podcast streamed on Discord dedicated to hacking into people’s Ring and Nest cameras to make for a good podcast show. NulledCast has hacked into people’s smart home speakers to talk to and harass them, but the podcast’s website has been recently updated to ban the discussion of Ring and Nest hacking topics.
A Ring spokesperson told WMC that the incident in Tennessee was isolated and that it wasn’t because of a security breach.
“Customer trust is important to us, and we take the security of our devices seriously. While we are still investigating this issue and are taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security,” the Ring spokesperson said.
A spokesperson also released a statement to Digital Trends.
“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,” the Ring spokesperson said.
A security flaw in the Ring doorbell was found earlier this year that could have allowed hackers to access video and audio from the doorbell, making it easy for a hacker to spy on the homeowner and any other member of their family. Amazon quickly updated the Ring app to address the vulnerability.
How to prevent your Ring camera from being hacked
According to Ring, it sounds like this camera was taken over by someone who either stole or guessed the family’s password. That said, there’s a lot of steps you can take to keep your passwords safe and protect your Ring security camera from being hacked, including enabling two-factor authentication and regularly changing your password.
- Nest makes two-factor authentication mandatory for its smart home devices
- After knocks on its security, Ring makes two-factor authentication mandatory
- How to tell if your security camera has been hacked
- Yes, China is probably watching us through our IoT devices
- The most hack-proof home security cameras