Eight-year-old Alyssa Lemay was alone in her room – or so she thought – when a disembodied voice began to speak to her. Alarmed, the little girl asked, “Who is that?”
The tenor tones of a man’s voice replied right away:
“I’m your best friend – I’m Santa Claus!”
The voice continued:
“You can do whatever you want right now. You can mess up your room. You can break your TV.”
At that point, the girl yelled, “MOMMY!” for help.
The girl’s mother Ashley LeMay shared the security camera system footage with ABC’s Good Morning America show and said:
“I can’t even put into words how violated I feel. It really is like my worst nightmare.”
Ashley LeMay returned her new Ring camera just four days after purchasing it. The conscientious parent had set up the system to monitor her three daughters while she worked overnight nursing shifts. Another mother had recommended adding the security feature and it seemed like a great Black Friday bargain.
Young Alyssa was in the hallway with her two sisters when she heard some strange music coming from her room. Curious, she went inside to investigate. That’s when the unknown intruder’s voice told her it was okay to trash her room and break an expensive piece of equipment.
Ring issued a statement that the company was “taking appropriate steps to protect our devices” and that “we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security.”
The statement, presumably intended to calm consumers’ fears, went on insult the intelligence of some of their clients and blame them for giving the cyber trespassers an easy way in:
“Due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions, bad actors often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services. As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords, and regularly change their passwords.”
Another similar statement made Ring appear to be the good guys, above reproach:
“Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. Our security team has investigated this incident and we have no evidence of an unauthorized intrusion or compromise of Ring’s systems or network.”
“Recently, we were made aware of an incident where malicious actors obtained some Ring users’ account credentials (e.g., username and password) from a separate, external, non-Ring service and reused them to log in to some Ring accounts. Unfortunately, when the same username and password is reused on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts.
“Upon learning of the incident, we took appropriate actions to promptly block bad actors from known affected Ring accounts and affected users have been contacted.”
This isn’t the first time a Ring security camera system has been hacked. Owners in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Texas have filed incident reports after their systems, intended to provide safety, introduced danger instead. Hackers have subjected family members to racial slurs and even demanded a Bitcoin ransom.
A Georgia couple who prefer to remain anonymous said they were alarmed when a hacker’s voice began speaking through the speaker in their bedroom three weeks after they had installed the system to keep an eye on their puppy while they went to work.
On December 9, 2019, after putting Beau the pup in a crate for the night, the Brookhaven woman lay down in her bed to go to sleep. Then, she was startled to hear a man’s cough over the Ring camera. Thinking it was her boyfriend, the woman texted him:
“I see the blue light come on…Why are you watching us?”
“What are you talking about?”
Then, the stranger’s voice started giving orders and clapping his hands:
“I can see you in the bed! C’mon! Wake the [expletive] up!”
The woman said she was terrified and “literally could not move my body.”
At one point, the male voice tried to engage the dog:
“Hello! Hello! Come here, puppy.”
The couple said they shared their story with the media after filing a police report to raise public consciousness about the dangers of the Ring surveillance network:
“I just want people to be aware. We got this Ring camera thinking about one thing – watching our puppy – not somebody looking at us.”
The couple checked the security system’s settings and found out that their Ring camera had been hacked on four separate occasions – but they couldn’t be sure if it was the same person each time.