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  (Source: BBC News)
The perils of "always on" cameras are on display in this wild story

Even as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) tries to sell customers on its vision of monitoring their homes 24-7 with "always on" cloud cameras, such as the Xbox One's 1080p second generation Kinect sensor, a shocking tale of the dark side of cloud-connected surveillance is emerging from Houston, Tex.

The wild story -- first reported by local news outlet ABC 13 -- involves a cloud-connected baby camera which was apparently hacked by an unknown party who used it to watch and even swear at a couple's small child.

Mark Gilbert and his wife purchased the camera -- which according to Forbes piece on the incident is believed to be a Foscam wireless camera model -- to keep an eye on their newborn, who was born deaf.  For the next two years the system -- which included the ability to talk through an included speaker and the ability to move the camera via built in actuators -- seemed perfect, until last weekend when the pair was shocked to hear a stranger's voice saying sexual things to their child from the monitor.

Foscam
Foscam's cloud baby camera.

Mr. Gilbert describes:

[The stranger] said, 'Wake up, Allyson, you little (expletive).'

Allyson was born deaf, so she has cochlear implants. Thankfully, we had them off, and she didn't hear any of it and she slept right through it.

I see the camera move on us [and we pulled the plug].

As a father, I'm supposed to protect her against people like this.  So, it's a little embarrassing to say the least, but it's not going to happen again.  It felt like somebody broke into our house.

We just use it to listen.  We almost couldn't live without it.


Now the family won't be using the cloud camera any more.  After research, the shocked Mr. Gilbert discovered his router was hacked, which appears to be how the attacker seized control of the camera.  He also figured out how they figured out his daughter's name -- it was written on the wall.

The incident is eye opening as while cloud-cameras are oft scrutinized over questions of government spying, this is believed to be the first reported instance of a non-government hacker seize control of a cloud-connected camera to spy on someone.  The Foscam camera had a vulnerability which was the subject of a keynote at a hacker conference in April; Foscam released a patch quickly, but relied on users to download and install it, which many reportedly have not done.  Such vulnerabilities are expected to become more common as cloud camera hardware is sold in greater quantities and as hackers explore the products' firmware.

Source: ABC 13





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