Father Says Google Nest Cam Hacker Threatened to Kidnap His Son

The Associated Press
Ryan Nakashima/AP

A California dad is warning others after a Google Nest Cam hacker threatened to kidnap his child from their home.

On Friday, Jack Newcombe wrote in an article for the Mercury News that when his 18-month-old son’s nanny asked if he and his wife were speaking with their child through their security camera system, he said no.

“Then the nanny texted that a voice was coming through the kitchen camera and using bad words,” Newcombe said.

He continued:

I immediately pulled up the video feed and began reviewing: I hear the familiar chime, which means someone is about to talk through the camera. Then, to my horror, a female voice that I don’t recognize starts talking to my 18-month-old son. He looks around the room and then at the ceiling, wondering who’s there.

The voice is laughing when it chimes in. She says we have a nice house and encourages the nanny to respond. She does not. The voice even jokes that she hopes we don’t change our password. I am sick to my stomach.

After about five minutes of verbal “joy riding,” the voice starts to get agitated at the nanny’s lack of response and then snaps, in a very threatening voice: “I’m coming for the baby if you don’t answer me, bitch!”

“My jaw drops. We unplug the cameras and change all passwords. The nanny has taken our son to the park down the street in an effort to escape. However, the damage has been done,” he said.

A similar instance occurred in January when a couple in Chicago, Illinois, said a hacker with a manly voice spoke to their baby through their home’s Nest security camera.

“My blood ran cold,” said Arjun Sud.

He told reporters that the hacker shouted obscenities at him and his wife and even raised the upstairs thermostat to 90 degrees.

“And then they messed with our thermostat?” his wife, Jessica, asked. “Who does that?”

However, the Google product page stated that the camera is “designed to help you look after your home and family — even when you’re away.”

“With 24/7 live streaming, a versatile magnetic stand, person alerts with Nest Aware and one app for all your Nest products, Nest Cam Indoor helps you keep an eye on what matters. From anywhere.”

A couple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said they no longer feel safe after a hacker spoke to them through their camera and began playing vulgar music.

“It gives me the chills just talking about it,” said Samantha Westmoreland.

Newcombe wrote that he was disappointed at Google’s lack of response regarding the security breach and said the company blames the individual for using a compromised password.

“I am reminded of Google’s former motto: ‘Don’t be evil’ (now buried in literally the last sentence of their code of conduct). It is not evil to bring a product to market before the privacy has been completely figured out, but it is evil to let someone threaten to kidnap an 18-month-old and have no real response,” he concluded.

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