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Hackers watch Washington family through Nest security camera

AUBURN, Wash. - If you have security cameras connected to the internet inside your home, you’re going to want to play close attention to this story. A Washington family says someone hacked their account and watched them for weeks inside their home; even yelling and cursing at their children.

They only moved in three months ago, but Abby Laguidao and Conrado Casallo say they’re uncomfortable inside their home. The family installed security cameras, which are connected to the internet, and say that’s when they started hearing things.

“Last week, like 4 a.m., a huge sound woke us up. I hear talking on this side and the moment I turned the light on the sound stopped,” Conrado told KCPQ.

Conrado says he unplugged the security camera in the living room.

“But then when I went back to bed. I could still hear it in the doorbell, but I was just too lazy. I thought maybe it’s an interference of signal,” says Conrado.

The couple says things got really creepy this week, while Abby and the children sat in their living room. She says could hear multiple male voices. At first, she thought it was Conrado just checking in via the security cameras.

“And then they started cussing and I was like that’s not Conrado. And they go nice laptop and I go OK someone is looking at me,” says Abby.

Abby wanted proof.

“I grabbed a chair and I was doing this, but my face was back here and my hand was right here because I didn’t want to look at them. They were like stop recording us! What the ‘F’ are you doing? And so that’s when I stopped the video because I was shaking,” says Abby.

After unplugging the cameras again, Abby and Conrado called Auburn Police, who confirm they are investigating.

Cornado says he also discovered Abby’s login account had been hacked.

Cybersecurity experts at WatchGuard Technologies say if you have security cameras with internet access, always use a strong password and protect it with a firewall or secure router. Also, limit web access to the cameras whenever possible.

As for Abby and Conrado’s house, they’re keeping the cameras on the outside for now.

“These things do happen. I do definitely feel very violated,” says Abby.

Abby and Conrado say in addition to filing a police report, they also filed a complaint with Nest, the company who made the cameras.

KCPQ reached out to Nest for comment and received this statement:

"Nest was not breached. These recent reports are based on customers using compromised passwords (exposed through breaches on other websites). In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of the security risk. We take security in the home extremely seriously, and we’re actively introducing features that will reject comprised passwords, allow customers to monitor access to their accounts and track external entities that abuse credentials."

Corey Nachreiner of WatchGuard Technologies shared these tips for internet security cameras:

Before buying:

o    Be sure to buy cameras with encrypted communications – Do a little research and make sure the camera you purchase uses a secure means of communication. If it’s wireless, make sure it encrypts the wireless video feed. For Internet-connected cameras, make sure it uses HTTPS for its interface and any cloud connection.

When first installing:

o    Change the default password(s) – Never keep the default passwords on a connected camera. Always immediately change it to something new.

o    Use a strong password – The password should be 12 characters or more. Any less and a hacker might be to crack it using “brute-force” methods.

o    Protect it with a consumer firewall or secure router – Whether or not you plan to allow the camera on the Internet, you should have it behind a device that blocks access to it without the need for you to allow such access.

After installing:

o    Limit or block Internet access – Ask yourself if you really need to manage this camera from outside your home. If not, use your router or firewall to block Internet access to the camera. If you do need Internet access to it (perhaps because it’s a security camera for when you travel), try to limit that access to the bare minimum.

o    Secure your other computers and devices – You may have secured your webcam, but if someone hacks the computer you use to access that webcam, they could still gain access to it through that computer.

o    [Pro Tip] Use VPN to access the camera – This is for more technical users, but one safe way to allow remote access to your home devices is through a virtual private network or “VPN.” This is a special authenticated and encrypted connection to your home network. You can block Internet access to a device like a webcam, but still set up a VPN to access it from the Internet securely.

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