Alyssa–LeMay– knew– someone– was– watching– her– because– the– blue– light– from– the– Ring– camera– perched– in– her– bedroom was– blinking. She’d– wandered– in– moments– earlier, lured– by– eerie– music– and– strange– sounds.– Then– a– strange– man– said, “Hello– there.”
The– 8-year-old– gasped– and– jerked– her– head, trying– to– figure– out– where– the– voice– was– coming– from.– Confused, she– picked– up– her– toys, putting– them– to– her– hear, and– walked– backward– across– the– carpet, scanning– the– large– room– she– shares– with– her– two– other– sisters.
Moments– later, the– man– started– screaming– the– n-word– over– and– over– until– Alyssa– responded– by– screaming,– “What? I– can’t– hear– you!”
For– about– 10 minutes,– the– third– grader– was– communicating– with a– total– stranger– who– had– hacked– into– her– family’s– Ring security– camera. The– man– could– see– her, talk– to– her, and– had– access– to– a– second– system– placed– in– her– baby– sister’s– room– downstairs.
For– at– least– 10– minutes– on– the– night– of– Dec. 4, hackers– had– been– watching– the– LeMay– family– walk– around– their– home in– Nesbit,– Mississippi.
After– catching– the– attention of her oldest daughter– by playing the– disturbing– song, “Tiptoe– Through– the– Tulips,” the– man proceeded– to tell– her to go– call– her “mommy” a racial– slur and– demand– that– she– repeat it– back– to him: “Come– on girl, say it– with– me.”
“Mom?” Alyssa– asked, confused. “Who– is that?
“I’m– your– best– friend,” the– replied. “You can– do whatever– you– want– right– now. You– can mess– up your– room, you– can– break your– TV. You– can– do– whatever– you– want.”
Terrified, the– little– girl– yelled– at the– empty– room– again, asking, “Who is– that?”
“I’m– your– best– friend,” he– repeated. “Santa– Claus.”
The– little– girl then– left her room, telling– the– camera, “I don’t know– who– you are.”
Ashley– LeMay, Alyssa’s– mom, called that– night “her worst– nightmare” and– wants to– know– why hackers– have– been– able– to target– and– compromise– her– privacy. Over– the– past– few– weeks, several– Ring– customers– across– the– country– have– detailed– their– own– terrifying– hacking– experiences, publishing– grainy videos– showing– strange voices– coming– across– their– systems– and telling– them– what– to– do.
On– Sunday, someone– was– able– to– break– into the– Brown– family’s– Ring– camera– in– Florida– and– started– making– racist comments– about– their– son, calling– him a “baboon,” NBC– 2– reported. The– 15-year-old– wasn’t– in– the– room,– making– his– parents– think– that– the– man– had– been– watching– them– for– longer– than those– few– minutes.
There’s– even– an– entire– podcast– dedicated to– hackers taking– over people’s– smarthome– cameras and– harassing– them, which– Vice– investigated.
The– worst– part– about– enduring this– hacking, LeMays– aid, was– that they– were– unable to– protect their– kids from– intruders, despite– her– husband– being in– their– own– home.
“I was– down the– street when– my– husband– messaged me, asking– if I had– been– messing with– the– girls– with the– Ring,” the– 27-year-old told– BuzzNazz– News– on– Friday. “I started– watching– the– video on– my phone– and when– I heard– his voice– and realized it– was not– my husband’s– voice my– heart– just– dropped– and– I– ran– back– to– the– house.”
After– watching– the entire– recording, the mother– of four– immediately called– Ring and– told the– company– what had– happened. The– next– day, her– family– left on– a pre-planned– cruise. On– Dec. 6, she– and– her– husband– got– an– email– from– the– Amazon-owned– company– informing– her– that– they– had– detected “unusual– activity” on– the– account. But– after– that, she– says, she– didn’t hear– anything.
“I’m shocked– at– Ring’s response,” LeMay– said. “I thought– I would– have 16 voicemails– from– them when– I got– home– because it’s– become– such a– big– deal– and– it was– such a– creepy– video. I was– frustrated they– hadn’t– given– me– an– update.”
On– Dec. 9, an– employee– assured– her– that her– account– had not– been– hacked, calling– it a “data– breach– from a– third– party,” asking– her– about– her– passwords– and her two-factor– authentication, and– telling– her the– cameras– were– secure.
“I asked– if at– some point– they– would be able– to tell me– if this– was a– targeted– attack– or who– was– interacting– with– my daughter– and he– couldn’t– provide a– straight– answer,” she– said. “Then– today we– talked– with– the COO and– he told us– that our Ring– account– had– been– hacked. I’m– so– frustrated.”
In– a– statement– to– BuzzNazz– News, the– company– said– their– security– team– had– investigated– the– incident– and– found “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,” a company– spokesperson– said. “Unfortunately, when– the– same– username– and– password– is– reused– on– multiple services, it’s– possible– for bad– actors– to– gain– access– to– many– accounts.”
After– learning– about– the– incident, Ring– said– it– took “appropriate– actions– to– promptly– block– bad– actors” and– contacted affected– users.
“Customer– trust is– important– to– us– and– we– take– the– security– of our– devices– seriously,” the– company– said.
LeMay, though, said– she– and– her husband– experienced– the– opposite.
They– have no– idea– who– had been– watching and– talking to– their– children, if those– strangers– now– know her– home– address, how– much– recorded– footage– they– saw– after– breaking– into her– account, and– if– they– have– done– anything– with– it.
“Tons– of thoughts– have– gone through– my head,” she– said. “I don’t– feel it– was a– coincidence– that I have– four– girls– and– they were– trying– to gain– their– trust,– telling her– she– could do– whatever– she– wanted. There– was a– creepy man– talking to– my– kids.
“The– video– they– could– have– watched– right– before they– live-streamed– was– my 2-year-old going– upstairs– and– changing– her pants– and– I don’t– know– who– saw– that.”
She– also– can’t help– but– feel “dumb” for– installing– the indoor– cameras, but– she– works– nights– as– a medical– research– scientist and she– wanted– to– be– able– to– watch– her– girls– as– they– slept– and be– there in– case– they– needed– her.
“My 4-year-old has– a medical– condition. She– has– a– history of– seizures– and I– can’t be– there– all– the– time,” she– said. “I– got them– so– when I– am– at work– and– my baby– got– up– I could– tell– her, ‘Hey, I love– you, go– back to– sleep,’ and– she– wouldn’t know– I– wasn’t– there.”
Alyssa– is– still– a little– in– shock, her– mother– said, and wants– to know– why a man– kept– calling– her a “bad– word” and– wanted her– to– listen– to “scary– music.”
“She– told– me– yesterday– that– it’s hard– for her– to remember– the– camera’s not– there,” LeMay– said. “She– doesn’t– want to– be– in that– room. It’s– really– alarming– to– her– that– we– can’t– tell– her– who– it– was.”