You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again when it comes to smart home security tips: Don't reuse the same, straightforward password for your accounts. Especially not ones linked to video and audio devices in your home, or you might suffer from a scary drop in from 'Santa Claus' this holiday season.
A bad actor claiming to be the jolly Christmas character hacked an indoor Ring security camera stationed in an 8-year-old child's room, according to NBC News. The LeMay family reported that they had installed the popular, Amazon-owned home security camera to keep an eye on their child just a few days prior to the incident.
The perpetrator managed to access the LeMay's Ring account, establishing control of the device's drop-in feature and perhaps a connection to the video feed, too.
As for how, there are a number of routes similar hackers can go for carrying out such an attack. Most are alarmingly simple, and nearly all stem from exposing easy passwords.
Protect yourself now
Because Ring devices can be controlled with the mobile Ring app, all it takes is knowing a username and password to gain entry to a home's ecosystem of cameras. Simply a lucky guess could do the trick, which is why it's important to have a password that's long, strong and unique. We also recommended enabling two-factor authentication when companies offer it.
Two-factor authentication, which sends a text code to your smartphone, is even more crucial now that there's a seedy software circulating the internet. The script shuffles through billions of compromised email addresses and passwords to deliver entry combinations right to the hands of hackers. And podcasters, too.
Podcast dedicated to Ring invasions
Vice's Motherboard vertical offered a look inside The NulledCast, a Discord podcast dedicated to using the credential-guessing software to broadcast into unlucky victims homes and harass owners.
Given the recent string of reported incidents, Vice says, it seems Nulled has tried to expunge evidence of its show's exploits. A distraught Cape Coral family, for example, contacted the Ring after a hacker began taunting them earlier this past weekend.
Ring told the NBC affiliate covering the LeMay's case that the hacks are "in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security."
If you're going to have a camera in your house (certainly in a house with young children), two-factor authentication and a complicated password are your best defense against anyone acting in NulledCast-fashion.
I get it. As someone who's regularly testing out new smart home devices, I'm often inclined to rush through the setup process and get the gadget working. But I've learned it's well worth it to take the extra few minutes to devise a unique, complicated password for accounts. Here's how to create one.