With a 4-month-old baby now living in their home, parents Ellen and Nathan Rigney are constantly keeping a hand or an eye on their little bundle of joy.
One of the tools Ellen and Nathan use to always have their little boy in sight is a baby monitor.
The brand of monitor the Rigneys used to use is called Nest. Ellen told KPRC that her husband always joked with her about the way she used it:
“My husband laughed. He called it my CCTV because I would have the Nest cam pulled up on the iPad over there and then the little audio monitor right next to it so I could see him from every angle.”
As the couple told KPRC, they had two cameras placed on top of their son, Topper’s, crib. Each of the cameras also had audio built into them.
Then on December 10, as Ellen and Nathan laid in their bed and Topper laid in his crib, a sound unlike they’ve ever heard before came through the monitor.
Ellen explained to KPRC:
“I said, ‘Hey, what is this, what’s going on?’ We hear it again and two beeping, it’s the noise it makes, and then we heard sexual expletives being said in his room. So we throw on the light in our room.
He turned that camera on and told us, said ‘Turn off the light.’ And then said, ‘I’m going to kidnap your baby – I’m in your baby’s room.'”
Not listening to the man they believed was standing in their son’s nursery, Nathan high-tailed it up the stairs to check on Topper.
When he got up to the nursery, all Nathan saw was his son safe and sound in his crib.
It was then that Ellen recalled the articles she read about people hacking into WiFi-based security cameras. She tried to comfort her husband:
“I kept telling him, I’m like, ‘He’s not in here, someone’s hacking this.'”
Their next step was shutting down the security system immediately and calling the authorities. Now they want to share their story with as many parents as possible.
Ellen told KPRC:
“I didn’t know what to think. It was the most frightening. It’s a voice that I will never forget, unnerving and unsettling. You have something that’s supposed to make you feel better. And instead, it makes you feel the opposite, makes you feel invaded and uncomfortable.”
Unfortunately, as Ellen told NBC News, customer service representatives for Nest “were no help at all” and “did not apologize.”
Nest said in a statement to NBC News that the hack in question had nothing to do with the company:
Nest said the company has “seen instances where Nest customers have reused passwords that were previously exposed through breaches on other websites and made public.”
“None of these breaches involved Nest,” the statement said.
Nest encouraged customers to set up “set up two-factor authentication” on their cameras. Two-factor authentication is a security feature that sends a unique code to a user, often to their smartphone, in order to verify their identity.
Ellen and Nathan have since thrown away their Nest cameras and are using ones that do not require WiFi to function.