In spite of the many warnings about device security and the need for two-factor authentication, many people don’t think it’s necessary. After all, why would a hacker target a random person instead of a bank or somewhere they could make a profit? In the case of one family from Wisconsin whose home was hacked, though, the hacker did it to have some malevolent fun. According to a story from Newsweek, Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland came home only to hear an unfamiliar voice from their home’s security camera.
After that, loud music began to play throughout their house and the Nest thermostat was raised to 90 degrees. The couple had used Google’s Nest system since November 2018. Even after she changed the thermostat, Samantha said it went right back to its previous setting and someone started speaking to her and her husband through their camera. The couple unplugged the camera and contacted their internet provider to change their network.
This is not the first time a hacker has broken into a home through its smart devices. In January, a hacker took over an Illinois family’s devices and spoke to their seven-month-old son. Once the family realized what was happening, they began to question the hacker, who said “Why are you looking at me? I see you watching me.”
Google says these hacks are not the result of a security breach on their part. According to Google, the company’s databases are secure and usernames and passwords have not been distributed among the web. According to the Newsweek article, there are 14.2 billion smart home devices presently in use, with an estimated 25 billion expected to be in use by 2021.
Smart devices offer unprecedented levels of convenience and control over homes, but they should be treated with the same level of care that you use for your bank account. Set up two-factor authentication, use different usernames and passwords for each device, and change the password regularly. If you suspect that your privacy has been violated or a device has been breached, unplug it until you can be sure it remains secure. With so many devices in play, it is impossible for any one agency to monitor them all.
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