We already know that hackers can gain access to “smart homes” through Internet-connected devices like garage doors, lights, even toilets. One of the creepier instances of the hackable Internet of things occurred over the weekend, when a Houston, Texas couple heard shouting coming from their 2-year-old daughter’s bedroom. They entered to discover the voice of a man with a British or European accent coming from the baby monitor, yelling at their daughter Allyson, “Wake up, you little slut!” (The baby is deaf and did not hear the slur, which her parents call “somewhat of a blessing.”)
The baby monitor was a wireless IP camera made by a company called Foscam. The security firm Qualys announced back in April that the devices were vulnerable to attacks, particularly the one out of five that had no password set up by the users.
Baby monitors are likely more common than many other “smart home” devices, as they’re near-ubiquitous on the registries of first-time middle-class parents, one of the bigger-ticket electronic items in a $50 billion baby products market. As an older generation alternative to Internet-connected devices, many baby monitors transmit images and sound over analog radio frequencies, but these have another kind of vulnerability, as signals can usually be picked up by anyone within range.