The purpose of baby monitors is to keep children safe when outside the scope of their parents’ vision; exactly the opposite of that happened on the night of August 10 when hackers invaded the wireless baby monitor of 2-year-old Allyson Gilbert.
Marc and Lauren Gilbert were washing dishes in their Texas home when they heard noises coming from their daughter’s room. Upon entering the room, they heard a man cursing and saying sexually lewd things to their daughter and calling her by name.
Gilbert says the hacker was able to take control of the camera and see his daughter’s name on the wall. In a panic, he pulled the plug on the device. The girl was not disturbed by the hacker’s calls because she was born deaf, having to depend on a cochlear implant to hear.
Dave Chronister, who is the managing partner of Parameter Security, did not consult the Gilbert family, but works for an ethical hacking company that is familiar with these types of hacks. Chronister believes that the Gilberts were using a webcam, equipped with speakers, that was compromised.
“In this case, what it sounds like is that they set this camera up, and someone cracked into the wireless network,” Chronister told CBSNews.com.
Chronister says that cracking into these webcams is similar to breaking into a website. If a password is not set, or is weak, the website that is used to manage the device can be compromised.
Parents can protect their homes by setting a strong password. Chronister recommends using Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) to set up a password because it uses better encryption standards and is very difficult to crack, especially combined with a good password.
Chronister says that these hacks are often times just kids pulling a prank, and warns of a phenomenon called “wardriving” — where people drive around looking for homes with weak wireless security.
“The thing to understand is that not all hackers have pointed at you as a target. You just happened to have a device that they know how to hack, so they hack it,” Chronister says.
Chronister said that making sure you have a long passowrd is one way to safeguard your privacy, but that’s not enough for the Gilbert’s, who say they are getting rid of the device all together.