Family tormented with racial slurs and taunts through hacked Nest camera

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Smart home security systems are supposed to provide people with a sense of safety, but they can also open families up to another type of home invader. A family in Illinois unfortunately fell victim to one of those invaders, a hacker that managed to hijack a Nest security camera and use it to taunt and terrorize the homeowners.

The Sud family of Lake Barrington, Illinois said they began to hear voices in their home Sunday evening, first from the bedroom and then downstairs in the kitchen. The family had just finished getting their 7-month-old child ready for bed when they were presented with the scare, according to accounts given to local news outlets CBS Chicago and NBC 5.

After checking the nursery and making sure there wasn’t an intruder in the house, the couple started looking for the source of the sound. While they thought it might be a baby monitor, they soon discovered the voices were coming from a Nest security camera. According to the family, the hackers started shouting curse words and racial slurs, taunting the family while they watched them through the security camera’s feed.

While the taunts were disruptive and offensive, they also were physically harmless. But then the hackers managed to hijack the family’s thermostat, as well. The family claims that at one point, they turned the temperature all the way up to 90 degrees in an attempt to discomfort the home’s residents. Instead of allowing the attack to continue, the family unplugged the cameras and called Nest to sort out the problem.

As is often the case with these types of breaches, it is likely that the family either failed to change the default password provided for Nest devices or reused a password that was accessible online. Nest reportedly told the family that setting a unique password and using two-factor authentication—which prompts the device owner for a secondary, randomly generated code to confirm their identity—would have prevented the attack.

These third-party breaches have grown increasingly common in recent months. A man in Arizona claimed a hacker talked to him through his Nest camera in order to warn him of a vulnerability in the device. In another reported hack, a California family fell victim to a fake emergency system broadcast that was delivered through a breached Nest camera.

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