A woman from the Netherlands received quite a scare recently when her smart camera started to talk to her.
Rilana Hamer bought the cheap Internet of Things smart camera to help her keep an eye on a new puppy when at work. The device simply connected to her Wi-Fi network and allowed her to tune in using her own phone or tablet.
However, when working through the daily chores, Hamer heard her camera moving from side to side in the next room. Checking in on the camera, Hamer assumed the camera was undergoing some kind of update and left it be. However the camera then began to talk via its inbuilt speakers.
Initially in French, then Spanish and then English, a voice coming from the camera seemed keen to make contact, moving the camera from side to side while asking Hamer if she spoke English. After initially unplugging the device, Hamer then brought a friend over and reconnecting the device, which soon became “possessed” again. Hamer told the voice “where to go”, before unplugging the device for good, but not before the mysterious voice got its own insult in (video below.)
It’s safe to say that some sort of hacker had managed to gain control of the smart camera, giving them the ability to see through it and control it. However the specifics of this intrusion remain largely a mystery for now. IoT devices that connect to your home Wi-Fi network are notoriously insecure, often relying on default passwords and minimal security. IoT manufacturers seem more concerned with accessibility and cost as opposed to security and privacy, and it’s the end users that ultimately pay the price for this.
The prospect of someone taking over your smart camera with so much ease is decidedly creepy, and it’s not the first case where hackers have snooped in on Wi-Fi enabled “smart” stuff, including baby monitors and even children’s toys.
Remember that this is an inherent risk when it comes to any IoT Wi-Fi enabled device. Stick with reputable manufacturers only and remember that cheaper models often forgo basic security practises. Never use default or commonly used passwords (instead use strong passwords) and remember to secure your own home network and router securely using the same common sense advice.
The malfunctioning camera was taken back to the store where the manufacturer is investigating. “The question is whether it’s in the camera or in the wrong use of passwords and WiFi connection.” said a representative.
Watch the latter part of the creepy encounter below – warning: NSFW