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News18 » Tech
2-min read

A Couple’s Nest Smart Home Was Taken Over by Hackers, And Vulgar Music Was Involved

Google has responded to these reports and the company is putting the onus on the consumers to keep their networks and account credentials secure.

Vishal Mathur |

Updated:September 25, 2019, 12:10 PM IST
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A Couple’s Nest Smart Home Was Taken Over by Hackers, And Vulgar Music Was Involved
Google has responded to these reports and the company is putting the onus on the consumers to keep their networks and account credentials secure.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be quite spooky too. The latest proof of that comes from the rather terrifying experience that a Milwaukee based couple Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland had to go through. A hacker took control of their Nest camera and started speaking to them through it. And it wasn’t a pleasant conversation, safe to say. Nest is a brand that makes smart home devices including security cameras and is owned by Google.

The couple, while speaking with Fox 6 News say that they have a Nest camera, a doorbell and a thermostat installed in their home since 2018 and this cost them $700. But what happened recently may have just changed their opinions about smart home devices. The couple returned home from work on September 17 only to find their home incredibly warm. Thinking it was a glitch with the Nest thermostat that controls the heating and cooling inside the home, the Westmoreland couple reset the thermostat to their preferred temperature and got on with life. But that was not it. Perhaps you may have seen this in movies, but the incident just kept repeating. The thermostat kept getting reset to incredibly warm temperatures. Eventually, a voice began speaking to them from the Nest camera installed in their home. And that wasn’t it—the hacker also started playing vulgar music.

"My heart was racing. I felt so violated at that point," Samantha Westmoreland told Fox 6 News. She went on to say that she unplugged the camera and turned it towards the ceiling.

The changed their passwords, but the hacker just wouldn’t go away. They then contacted their internet service provider and had their network reset and credentials changed. They believe someone hacked into their Wi-Fi and then their Nest. But that shouldn’t be happening. "If someone hacks into your Wi-Fi, they shouldn't be able to have access to those Nest devices without some sort of wall they have to get over," says Lamont Westmoreland. They are clearly upset that the $700 investment on the smart system allowed a hacker to get into their home.

In the meantime, Google has responded to these reports with a statement to the media. The company clearly is putting the onus on the consumers as far as keeping their networks and credentials secure are concerned. “Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites). In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk. Nest users have the option to migrate to a Google Account, giving them access to additional tools and automatic security protections such as Suspicious activity detection, 2-Step Verification and Security Checkup. Millions of users have signed up for two-factor verification,” a Google spokesperson told the Fox network. But that still doesn’t answer how, even if the Westmoreland home Wi-Fi network was hacked, were the hackers allowed access to the Nest smart devices and enable a complete take-over of their functionality.

If you already use smart devices at home, including smart security cameras or speakers, this should be a warning to ensure that your network security and account protection features are enabled. If you don’t, this could just be a reaffirmation of your views.

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