Hacker strikes again: Creep hijacks baby monitor to scream at infant and parents

If you have a wireless IP camera, then go to the manufacturer’s site and check for a firmware update right now, before you are featured in the next story about a hacker invading the privacy of your home by remotely turning that camera against you to spy on you before screaming profanities at you and your baby.

Hacker hijacks baby monitor to scream at infant and parents

At first, this story seemed like recycled news about the pervert who hacked a wireless baby monitor to yell and cuss at a baby girl. But that happened in Houston and the newest hijacked baby monitor happened in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Adam and Heather Schreck were awakened in the middle of the night by a man’s voice coming from their 10-month-old baby’s room. Mother Heather checked the video feed on her phone and saw the camera moving, but she wasn’t moving it. She said:

"About the time I saw it moving, I also heard a voice again start screaming at my daughter. He was screaming, 'Wake up baby. Wake up baby,' and then just a long 'aaaaahhhh' screaming at her, I guess trying to wake her up." 

Foscam wireless baby monitor

After father Adam ran into baby Emma’s room, the Foscam IP camera/baby monitor swiveled “from his petrified daughter to point directly at him.” He told Fox 19, “Then it screamed at me. Some bad things, some obscenities. So I unplugged the camera.”

Unplugging the device also “wiped” any evidence, making it “impossible” for the police to track the hacker. Heather also told CTVNews:

“What scares me even more is that if this person hadn’t been screaming at my daughter I would not have known that he was even looking at her.”

“So I have no way of knowing if he’s done it before, how often, listened in on conversations between my husband and I in the house. (It’s) just a real sense of violation that someone just walked into our life and (we) didn’t even know it.”

It’s no surprise the family feels violated. The Schrecks “always thought the camera was secure because their Wi-Fi is password protected.” And the father of a toddler who was yelled and cussed at last year also claimed that the “router was password protected and the firewall was enabled. The IP camera was also password protected.”

Foscam wireless IP cameras go by different brand names in Europe, but those are not the only wireless IP cameras vulnerable to being hacked and turned into surveillance against the owners. A year ago, Qualys security researchers found over 100,000 cameras connected to the Internet. They warned, “Two out of 10 wireless IP cameras in the wild that can be found via Shodan will authenticate you with 'admin' without requiring password.”

Another vulnerability to bypass authentication was posted in the Foscam tech support forum in January 2014. A remote “user could just press OK in the dialogue window without filling in a user or password” and then access video streams and take snapshots.

“In order to ensure the security of your Foscam cameras and prevent various types of hacking and unauthorized access, it is imperative that you regularly check to make sure you have the latest security firmware installed.” Foscam further stated that if you give the company your email address, then it will let you know when there is a firmware update.

The Schreck family will now be on the lookout for Foscam firmware updates, but as Fox 19 reported, security “experts warn it's not just these IP cameras that can be hacked, anything with a camera on it – including Apple TV, your tablet – could allow hackers to watch you in the privacy of your own home.” That can also include web cams of hackers turned against them by other hackers as was the case when an Israeli hacker hijacked webcams and unmasked Anonymous OpIsrael hackers.

Since I usually try to toss in a little something extra, here are today’s tidbits:

Instead of a baby cam being used as a spying device against the owners, a family used a baby cam to catch evidence and video footage of a teenage burglar “hovering” over a sleeping toddler’s crib.

Did you know there’s a “baby crying monitor” feature under the Samsung Galaxy S5 accessibility menu?

Samsung Galaxy S5 baby crying monitor

Searching for Ohio and baby cam also brought up news of how a hidden cam caught a woman stealing a toy from a baby’s grave. Someone has been stealing toys from the infant’s grave since 2009, as well as other items off other gravesites, which prompted police to setup surveillance in the cemetery. After a stuffed Easter duck was stolen from the baby boy’s gravesite, the police posted footage showing the thief in action and asked if anyone recognized her. The identified woman plans to plead “not guilty.”

Seriously if anyone in your family uses a Foscam or any other brand of wireless IP camera, then a concerned relative would remind that person to check for firmware updates. And friends don’t let friends drive wireless IP cams with updating firmware.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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