CAPE CORAL, Fla. (WBBH) – Home security cameras are supposed to give peace of mind but not for one Florida couple who had their surveillance camera hacked by someone who taunted them with racial slurs.
On Dec. 8, the Brown family in Cape Coral was in their kitchen when their alarm was triggered. Then all a sudden, a man started spewing racial comments about their son through their camera.
“Is your kid a baboon, like the monkey?” said the hacker.
For nearly three minutes, the couple endured more hateful speech from the stranger.
Their 15-year-old son never appeared in the camera’s view. This left the family to believe the hacker was peering into their private life longer than just that night.
Eventually, they ripped out the camera’s batteries.
“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,” said Josefine Brown.
The Brown’s contacted Ring.
In an email to the family, Ring said their security team “identified that the email address and password of one of your external accounts was exposed in a data breach.”
The company explained that “somebody may have used this method to attempt to gain access to your Ring account.”
After WBBH NBC 2’s story aired, Ring responded to their request for information. In a statement, the company said:
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.
Due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions, bad actors often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services. As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords, and regularly change their passwords.
Josefine said she stays vigilant when it comes to other ways a hacker could breach their smart systems. She explained their family constantly changes their WiFi password.
Michelle Bortoff, an expert with Securitech1, said security systems dependent on WiFi can be easy to hack.
“Wired cannot be hacked. Somebody has to be in your home hardwired to your modem to see anything on your network,” Bortoff said.