DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. – A Mississippi mother bought a camera that she hoped would help her keep an eye on her children.
But instead, someone used the Ring camera to eavesdrop on her family—and see into her 8-year-old-daughter’s room.
“I did a lot of research on these before I got it. I really felt like it was safe,” Ashley LeMay told WMC.
She bought it through a Black Friday deal on the recommendation of another mom.
“She had one and was watching her kids on her phone and I was like, ‘Oh, you can actually speak to them, and that is really neat.”
But just four days after setting up the camera, LeMay’s 8-year-old daughter heard strange noises coming from it.
“At first what happened, I was in the hallway with my sisters and I heard some music, so I came upstairs and I hear some banging noise and I was like, ‘Who is that?'” Alyssa LeMay recalled.
The mysterious voice played music and encouraged destructive behavior before Alyssa’s father came into the room and turned off the camera.
Her parents played back the video recording and heard a voice: “I’m Santa Claus. Don’t you want to be my best friend?”
“They could watch them sleeping, changing, they could have watched a lot of things,” Ashley LeMay said. “Honestly, my gut, it makes me either feel like (it’s) somebody who knows us or somebody who is very close by.”
The camera has been disconnected, and LeMay plans to return it.
LeMay admits she didn’t set up two-factor authentication on her Ring account that would’ve added another layer of protection. After the family’s experience, they’ve made some security changes, including a change to their Wi-Fi settings so their network is no longer visible to other people.
She has contacted Ring. The company told her that safety and security are top priorities as they investigate the matter.
Ring also provided a statement to WMC:
Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. While we are still investigating this issue and are taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security.
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.