Your home security system could be the very device that gives hackers access into your life.
Families in Ohio and Texas experienced the worst of what could happen.
The Garritys in Cleveland heard a creepy voice come out of their child’s video game saying, “I see you. Do you want to play hide and seek?”
Their computer and phone networks were also compromised.
“We want him to leave us alone,” John Garrity said. “We want him to get out of our lives.”
In Houston, it was a similar story with Ellen Rigney’s baby monitor for her infant son.
“We heard sexual expletives being said in his room,” she said. “[The hacker] turned that camera on and then said ‘I’m going to kidnap your baby. I’m in your baby’s room.'”
Geoff Gardiner is a cyber security expert in Milwaukee who frequently encounters that vulnerable feeling of someone coming into a client’s home or workspace.
“They can see when your packages are delivered,” he said. “They can see when your mail’s delivered. They can see when you’re there or not there. It’s like inviting them into your house.”
There are easy ways to protect from this happening.
Gardiner advises changing passwords every few months and using different passwords for different websites.
He says people have probably heard those tips before, but they’re reluctant to follow through.
Gardiner hears often that keeping track of multiple passwords is “too much of a hassle.”
So he suggests keeping it simple and sticking to a theme.
“Pick your first car so go from Dodge to Ford or something like that,” Gardiner said. “Put numbers on the end. Make it something that’s fairly easy to remember.”
A common way for hackers to gain access is not through a home network directly, but by taking a password from another website that’s been hacked.
“Unnerving, unsettling,” Rigney said. “You have something that’s supposed to make you feel better and instead it makes you feel the opposite. It makes you feel invaded and uncomfortable.”
To check if any of your passwords have been compromised, click here and enter your email address.
There are also services available that will encrypt passwords and simultaneously “remember” them for you. Gardiner recommends one called Last Pass.