Computer Hacker Takes Over Milwaukee Couple’s Home
Smart-home technology offers many positives for homeowners, but a big downside to it is the fact that a hacker can really cause some havoc when they get in to your system.
Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland of Milwaukee just learned about that downside first-hand when someone hacked their way into some of the Westmoreland's smart-home features.
The couple had originally installed a Google Nest system in their house in November 2018. On September 17, Samantha came home and found that the thermostat had been turned up to 90 degrees. Thinking it was a mistake, she reset the thermostat.
The thermostat went back up, though, and a disembodied voice started talking to her and her husband through the camera in the kitchen and playing loud, "vulgar" music. "So I unplugged it and turned it facing the ceiling," Samantha said.
The Westmorelands eventually contacted their internet service provider and changed their network ID, thinking that someone had hacked first into their wifi and then begun using their Nest.
"People need to be educated and know that this is real, and this is happening, and it is super scary, and you don't realize it until it's actually happening to you," Samantha said.
In January, someone took over a West Barrington, Illinois, couple's Nest cameras and began talking to their 7-month-old.
The hacker hurled obscenities and changed the temperature in the house to 90 degrees. After the homeowner disconnected the cameras, he contacted Nest, which told him to use two-factor authentication when logging in for added security.
That same month, a California family says someone used their Nest camera's speaker to warn of an impending missile strike from North Korea.
In a statement in February, Google maintained that those incidents didn't stem from a system breach but rather customers "using compromised passwords ... exposed through breaches on other websites."
While there are 14.2 billion smart-home devices in use this year—and 25 billion expected to be in use by 2021—there is no one organization responsible for monitoring or regulating security measures for the numerous devices.