A so-called ‘smart’ camera whispered “hola señorita” to its Dutch owner as it tracked her movements around the room unnoticed.
It’s unclear when all of this befell Rilana Hamer, a claims adviser who lives in Brummen, Netherlands. But it appears it happened without warning.
About a month or two previously, the woman had purchased a smart camera that connects to a Wi-Fi network. She had done so in order to keep an eye on her new puppy. (Of course, anyone who’s ever owned a puppy knows it’s also entirely possible that a puppy could mess with the camera while it’s left at home anyway.)
But back to our story…
Rilana writes what happened one evening in a Facebook post:
“For a moment, I thought I was going crazy. I come home and do my daily things. Shopping and cleaning these up, singing through your house… until you hear something mess in the living room. I walked into the living room and I saw my camera move.”
She thought it was just her, so she went about her business. But she heard another noise. So she came back into the room. When she did, the camera turned her way, and a voice said
“Bonjour, madame. Tout bien avec vous?”
That was all a bit too much for Rilana. She promptly disconnected the camera from its power socket and threw it into a box. That didn’t stop the thoughts from buzzing around her head:
“I was full of fear and thought I was going crazy. I’m being watched, but for how long? What did that person see from me? My house, my personal effects..”
A friend came over, and together, they decided to reconnect the camera. Sure enough, it latched onto her position once more. This time, it asked her if she speaks French. When she said no, it switched to “hola señorita.”
Rilana at that point had had enough. She told whoever was speaking to her to “get the f*ck out of my house, now.” She and her friend then pulled the plug on the camera and put it back inside of its box…but not before the intruder had a chance to say “ohhhhhhh suck my d*ck!”
As reported by Dutch news outlet RTL, Rilana has since returned the camera to where she bought it: Action, a Dutch discount store chain that specializes in low budget non-food goods.
…Perhaps including goods from IoT vendors that don’t care about or have the budget for improving their products’ security?
We all know that these little gadgets are convenient. But we also know this isn’t the first instance when an IoT device has been caught spying on its owners. It’s therefore up to users to either vote with their wallets for goods that originate from trusted manufacturers or research unfamiliar products.
Just remember that a lack of information isn’t any indication of a clean reputation. Indeed, when it comes to smart things, it’s better to lack any sort of trust until company assurances and other users’ reviews convince you otherwise.
If and when uses choose a trusted device, it’s up to them to secure them with a strong password. Failure to do so will leave them open to all kinds of attacks.