Baby monitor hacked, child verbally assaulted

All of our electronic devices are protected by passwords, and they generally come out of the box with one that is trivial to guess. It makes things easier for the owners, but it also makes the devices easier for the bad guys to break into and use however they want.

A Houston couple learned that lesson the hard way. According to KTRK TV, the parents heard voices coming from their daughter's bedroom. As they approached the room, they could hear the hacker's voice through the speaker in the IP camera saying, "Wake up Allyson, you little (expletive)." When the parents entered the room, the camera rotated to face them before the father quickly disconnected the device.

The parents may believe their home was "hacked," but as Occam's razor says, the most obvious answer is usually the correct one and in this case it's probably a simple case of a default username and password. There's a reason why many security professionals believe that passwords are an outdated method of authentication and are calling for different solutions, such as multifactor authentication. It's also a wake-up call to everyone with electronic devices: Change your passwords!

You also have to think about privacy vs. convenience. If you can access a camera from the Internet to watch your house, someone else online can do the same. Is that something we want? Everything in life is a series of risks, so the question would be whether the benefits from the camera outweigh the risks of someone secretly gaining access to it. It's a question that has a different answer depending on who you ask.

Source: KTRK TV | Baby monitor photo via Shutterstock

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49 Comments

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I may be missing it, but there is a important detail missing from this news posting or at least I don't see it - not that the jerk who did this would have guessed and hopefully he will get caught soon enough anyway, but little baby Allyson is deaf so she could not hear him and never would have.

Cast Iron Leader said,
I may be missing it, but there is a important detail missing from this news posting or at least I don't see it - not that the jerk who did this would have guessed and hopefully he will get caught soon enough anyway, but little baby Allyson is deaf so she could not hear him and never would have.

But who in the media would ever let facts get in the way of a sensationalistic headline?

> Thankfully we had them off and she didn't hear any of it and she slept right through it

She's also 2. At that age, I'd say verbal abuse has more to do with the tone of voice than what is actually being said.

More stupid consumers. They dont read the instructions beyond setup. Its their fault. Poor kid. At least the kid is to small to ever even remember it.

I don't think that "passwords are an outdated method of authentication", is just that users are ignorant, they should no better, if you use a random password generator that uses a combination of special characters, numbers, upper case, lower case, etc. this should not have happened.

Simple as that.

We all on here can say change the password, but I can't tell you the number of times I have helped friends with their wifi only to realize they never set up a password, or know how to. Many people forget or now know how to.

As they approached the room, they could hear the hacker's voice through the speaker in the IP camera saying,

I wish people would stop throwing out the term "hacker" for everything. In this case they're far from hackers, nothing needed to be hacked. When you leave the password as "password" or something default password, it doesn't take a hacker to gain access.

I agree with you 100% -- but from a writing perspective, what should we have called the guy? "As they approached the room, they could hear the guy who guessed the default password's voice through the speaker in the IP camera?" Hacker is one of those words that has lost the true meaning.

GreatMarkO said,
Multifactor authentication seems a little over the top for a baby monitor in my opinion!!
It was a webcam, not a baby monitor. A webcam not used properly, that is.

I'll agree but why can't the manufacture ship with a different default password for each device they sell? ISP's do it with their wireless routers to prevent people freeloading from a customers connection.

Phouchg said,
A partial, but nevertheless at least a solution. How complex are these passwords?

If it's a Foscam, as suspected, the default username and password are "admin" - so trivial.

Luckily...the parents had little Allyson's hearing turned off....so she was unaware she was being "verbally abused"....

So, open router or webcam or door aside, is no one going to point out the simple fact this turd was spending time watching (and saying vulgar things to) a child.... sickening, and the focus should be the legal charges of sexual deviance and the like, with a warning to really do what the electronics manuals tell you, and CHANGE YOUR FREAKING PASSWORDS.

If I leave my valuables in my wide open front doorway and someone steals them, do you rant about how horrible that person was for stealing my valuables, or do you slap me for leaving my front door wide open??

Good grief.

People do stupid things behind the supposed anonymity of the internet, it was probably just some voyeuristic bored pervert looking for porn who stumbled on this open webcam and said stupid things. I don't think that's really the point.

james.faction said,
If I leave my valuables in my wide open front doorway and someone steals them, do you rant about how horrible that person was for stealing my valuables, or do you slap me for leaving my front door wide open?? [...]

I reckon this is not an appropriate analogy. Nothing was stolen in this case because no one depraved them from something that is righteously theirs. The correct analogy would be: "If I leave my front doorway wide open, does it means that people could freely walk inside?" -- truth is that there is no deterrent and therefore people could arguably walk inside and apologise latter for 'any misunderstanding'.

The issue here is that the guy shouted abuse to a two yer old girl, which is a matter on its own.

COMPLETELY INACCURATE HEADLINE.

It wasn't a "baby monitor", it was a webcam. Advertised as "accessible from anywhere via the web".

In all likelihood it wasn't "hacked", much more likely it wasn't secured with a password or with a very poor one (or the default one, which is virtually the same as no password). It's very easy to search for these open webcams and log into them - then you can do whatever you like with them.

Moral of the story: don't leave your front door wide open when you leave the house, don't leave a webcam monitoring your child wide open to the internet.

Edited by james.faction, Aug 15 2013, 4:12am :

james.faction said,
COMPLETELY INACCURATE HEADLINE.

Not completely inaccurate. It was a device being used to monitor the baby, but yes, it's not sold as a "baby monitor." I'll keep that in mind for future articles.

Okay, I laughed.. yes I'm a dad as well.

Except for the creepy part where the camera turned to face them, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

That's too X Files for my liking.

EDIT: okay just read the link, and saw the offender was making sexually explicit comments as well. No longer amused, that's sickening.

ZipZapRap said,
Okay, I laughed.. yes I'm a dad as well.

Except for the creepy part where the camera turned to face them, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

That's too X Files for my liking.

EDIT: okay just read the link, and saw the offender was making sexually explicit comments as well. No longer amused, that's sickening.

I done the same as you mate, laughed, shuddered then sickened

Exactly. Same here. I mean I could imagine it as if I were watching a funny sitcom, but to think of it actually happening is a bit freaky.

if the person knew the childs name, it's most likely someone they know, not some random person who hacked the system but someone who knew how to access it, were probably given or had access to the login information at some point.

The child's name was in big letters over her bed. That is how they knew to call her by name. Luckily (in a sad way) the child is deaf and did not hear any of the crap the pervert said.

What happened to actually going up to the room to see what's going on instead of checking in with a robotic camera? Yeah good when you are away but...

ians18 said,
What happened to actually going up to the room to see what's going on instead of checking in with a robotic camera? Yeah good when you are away but...

Yeah dude... like, why would you need something like that? Dorm is only 150 sq. feet man. Whoa...

ians18 said,
What happened to actually going up to the room to see what's going on instead of checking in with a robotic camera? Yeah good when you are away but...

eh? It is a BABY MONITOR dude. Quite important when parents are doing other chores around the house, so they can keep an eye on their child.

ians18 said,
What happened to actually going up to the room to see what's going on instead of checking in with a robotic camera? Yeah good when you are away but...

Never had kids then. When you put them down in a quiet room you need some way to check on them without waking them.

What I don't understand is the reason to have access to it over the internet? I understand LAN access, but you shouldn't be leaving your child alone to where you would need to access it in other places.

Nicholas Payne said,
What I don't understand is the reason to have access to it over the internet? I understand LAN access, but you shouldn't be leaving your child alone to where you would need to access it in other places.

Somebody understands what I mean sort of... I mean you could walk over to the room to check on the baby.

Nicholas Payne said,
......

Scenario:
I put my child down for a nap and decide to weed the garden.
I do not have range extender set up for my garden.

Phone's data connection is "The Internet".
Now do you see?

Nicholas Payne said,
What I don't understand is the reason to have access to it over the internet? I understand LAN access, but you shouldn't be leaving your child alone to where you would need to access it in other places.

I think the title of the article causes confusion. As far as i'm aware from other sources, it wasn't actually a baby monitor but an internet connected web cam. So they weren't actually leaving the child alone as they were in the house.

What the heck is wrong with people nowadays? I could understand, so to speak, going after the parents but a child? Just sick...

The parents didn't have a webcam open to the internet with the default password pointed at themselves. The parents put the thing in their own child's room.

The fact that there are perverts out there looking for porn or whatever isn't the problem, it's idiot parents who don't take even minimum safety precautions with something as dodgy as a internet-controllable webcam.

I agree with this. The guy who did this is sick- a weirdo preying on kids. That article is a wake-up call- just be aware that there is a lot of people out there who don't necessarily have your best interests in mind. Take your precautions and use a better password.

That's absurd. The parents did not actively do something wrong. This society is getting weirder all the time. What you are basically saying is if we don't take every precaution to prevent something bad from happening then it is OUR fault and we get what we deserve.

"He believes someone hacked his router as well as the camera. The person could see Allyson's name on the bedroom wall to call her by it."

People hack all kinds of things. Somehow someone got a hold of one of my passwords (probably from a not-so-secure database somewhere) and hacked my google account. That IS my fault, I should have 100 different passwords for every account I have online, instead I have a handful of different passwords. Even so, it is a nonsense password with caps and numbers so someone had to go out of their way to get it, then try it against places they know I frequent/use. People live for the thrill of thwarting other people's precautions. The man was unaware of the liabilities, trusting that his router (which likely had a default firewall, but a firewall none the less) would prevent anyone from coming into his network...

If you buy something connected to the internet, don't fully understand how it works and can be used then yes, it is your fault for not using it properly. I'm sure the directions recommended they change the password but they did not.

Being ignorant is not an excuse. I'm sick and tired of people not knowing how technology works and then blaming it when something they don't expect happens. Learn to properly use it and how it works, call a professional, or stay away. I'm tired of people ****ing themselves with their lack of basic understanding and then blaming the tech. people buy themselves even simple iPhones and have no idea how to setup email and get ****ed that it's "to hard."

By not caring enough to learn the basics about internet based technology they allowed this to happen. If they probably also don't have anything other then a basic password on their Wifi, or none at all. If you are going to do anything internet based and not think that anything can happen then you are going to have a bad time.

You don't walk into a known high crime area with out proper precautions. Well guess what, the internet is a high crime area, and they put their baby on it.