Baby Monitor Hacking Alarms Houston Parents
A Houston couple is still shaken after saying they heard the voice of a strange man cursing and making lewd comments in the bedroom of their 2-year-old daughter.
When Marc Gilbert and his wife Lauren entered the room, the voice cursed them as well.
The creepy voice - which had a British or European accent - was coming from the family's baby monitor that was also equipped with a camera. A hacker apparently had taken over the monitor.
The incident occurred on Aug. 10 as Marc Gilbert was doing the dishes after his birthday dinner and he heard strange noises coming from his daughter Allyson's room while she was sleeping, Gilbert said.
"Right away I knew something was wrong," he told ABC News.
As he and his wife got closer to the room, they heard the voice calling his daughter an "effing moron," and telling her,"'wake up you little slut."
The hacker then began shouting expletives at her parents and calling Gilbert a stupid moron and his wife a b****.
"At that point I ran over and disconnected it and tried to figure out what happened," said Gilbert. "[I] Couldn't see the guy. All you could do was hear his voice and [that] he was controlling the camera."
Allyson is deaf, said Gilbert, so she did not wake up. "It's somewhat of a blessing," said Gilbert of his daughters' hearing impairment. "If she had heard it it would have been a big problem."
Their son Ethan, 3, did not hear anything either and only woke up after he heard his parents that night.
Gilbert wonders whether there were similar previous incidents that he wasn't aware of.
"It's quite possible that this had been going on more than one day," he said. "Security vulnerabilities exist."
Parry Aftab, a lawyer specializing in internet privacy and security law, said that such hacking is "very uncommon" but noted that is "one of our greatest fears that people are going to be able to access these baby monitors."
Aftab said that if monitors are connected to Wi-Fi, keeping a password is imperative. Otherwise, she explained, anyone can access the Wi-Fi-and therefore has access to the monitor as well.
In order to prevent universal access, said Aftab, it is key to maintain the secrecy of passwords.
"Guard the people who have access to your computers and your passwords," she advised. She noted that baby sitters, housekeepers, or unattended cell phones can all be sources to obtain passwords.
Gilbert did not report the incident to the police, but said he is still shaken up and wary about publicizing the story for fear of endangering his children. He was also reluctant to provide photographs of his children.
He did call his internet service provider, who told him to check his passwords on the device. Gilbert said he is leaving the device permanently unplugged.
"I don't think it ever will be connected again," he said. "I think we are going to go without the baby monitor now."
But he wants other parents to be aware of the potential dangers of the monitors being hacked.