Couple ‘felt so violated’ after hacker took over smart home devices, began talking to them

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MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee couple says their smart home was hacked after their camera began talking to them, and their thermostat reached upwards of 90 degrees.

The Westmoreland family installed a Nest camera, doorbell, and thermostat in their home in 2018. They had no problems until they heard a voice talking through a camera in their kitchen.

"It's supposed to make me feel safe, and I didn't feel safe," Samantha Westmoreland told WITI.

Their place of comfort turned creepy on September 17th.

"My heart was racing," Westmoreland said. "I felt so violated at that point."

Westmoreland returned from work to a blazing hot home. The thermostat had been turned all the way up to 90 degrees. She thought it was a glitch – and set it back to room temperature. She did not realize that was only the beginning of a roller coaster 24 hours.

The thermostat continued to go up – and a voice began speaking from a camera in the kitchen – and then playing vulgar music.

"So I unplugged it and turned it facing the ceiling," Westmoreland said.

Westmoreland and her husband changed their passwords, but the problems persisted. Eventually, they contacted their internet carrier and changed their network ID. They believe someone hacked into their Wi-Fi and then their Nest.

"If someone hacks into your Wi-Fi, they shouldn't be able to have access to those Nest devices without some sort of wall they have to get over," said Lamont Westmoreland.

The Westmorelands said they're upset their $700 system was a gateway into their home.

"Maybe there's some steps we should take," said Lamont Westmorland. "I think Nest should be tightening security."

They wanted to share their story to make others aware that hackers are outsmarting the smart home.

"People need to be educated and know that this is real, and this is happening, and it is super scary, and you don't realize it until it's actually happening to you," Samantha Westmoreland said.

A Google spokesperson provided this statement: "Nest was not breached. These 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 security risk. Nest users have the option to migrate to a Google Account, giving them access to additional tools and automatic security protections such as Suspicious activity detection, 2-Step Verification and Security Checkup. Millions of users have signed up for two-factor verification."

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