While one family was at home on Sunday, they received a horrifying alert. A highly disturbing audio message blared through their house, telling the family that ballistic missiles were headed toward three American cities and President Donald Trump had been relocated to a secure facility in preparation for the attack.
The message, which was found to be playing through a Nest home security camera, said the United States had retaliated against North Korea and asserted that people in target cities had three hours to evacuate.
Unsure of what to do, Laura Lyons began comforting her son in their Orinda, California home. According to a report by Fox News, the family also began searching diligently for more information about the supposed attack in progress.
“It sounded completely legit, and it was loud and got our attention right off the bat,” said Lyons. “It was five minutes of sheer terror and another 30 minutes trying to figure out what was going on.”
A manager at Nest informed the family that they were probably victims of a “third-party hack,” where an individual or group accessed the camera and its speakers thanks to a compromised password.
“These recent reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites),” said a spokesperson for Google, the company that owns Nest. “In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk.”
Lyons said that, prior to the incident, she wasn’t even aware that the camera had speakers or a microphone. She chose to disable them shortly after being hacked.
“We take security in the home extremely seriously, and we’re actively introducing features that will reject comprised passwords, allow customers to monitor access to their accounts and track external entities that abuse credentials,” the Google spokesperson added.
As smart devices become more common in people’s homes, hackers will work to exploit vulnerabilities for a variety of reasons, including instilling fear.
In December, a Houston family said they heard the voice of a stranger coming through a baby monitor in their infant’s room that was spewing “sexual expletives.” When they turned on the light in the child’s room, their Nest camera activated, and the voice instructed them to turn the lights off and threaten to kidnap the infant.