ORINDA (CBS13) — A Northern California family ran for cover, terrorized by their own security system after someone hacked their Nest camera, making them believe a missile was headed their way.
The hacker sounded an alarm saying the U.S. was under a missile attack from North Korea.
The Lyons family says this was “five minutes of sheer terror.” The message blasted through their home said there were ballistic missiles headed to three American cities and President Trump has been moved to a secure facility.
It was a frightening false alarm, that Nest officials are quick to point out was not a breach of their system, but rather something the owner controls.
The alarm sounded legitimate, so Laura Lyons, her husband, and their eight-year-old son scrambled to escape thinking they only had minutes to leave their home before an attack.
“Tremendous amount of anxiety and more importantly, our poor 8-year-old, you know, scared to death,” Orinda resident Laura Lyons said in an interview with the East Bay Times.
She said the man said the United States had launched a counter attack, and that missiles from North Korea were headed to Los Angeles, Chicago, and Ohio.
“And then we realized the broadcast was not coming from the TV,” Lyons said.
That’s when she realized the warning, which kept repeating, was actually coming from her Nest camera. After calls to 911 and Nest, she learned the whole thing was a hoax.
“They admitted that they had received multiple reports of Nest cameras being hacked in the last week,” Lyons said.
A spokesperson from Google, which owns Nest, said hackers did not breach Nest. Instead, he said someone stole Lyon’s password.
In a statement, Google said they are actively introducing features that will reject compromised passwords.
Former FBI agent Jeff Harp said he was surprised this doesn’t happen more often.
“Everything that’s connected to the internet…creates a pathway for someone to get in,” Harp said. “You can be a little smarter about making sure you’ve updated your firmware and that you do have complex passwords. There’s only so much you can do.”
While Laura is grateful everyone is safe, her panic has now grown to anger.
“I want Nest and other corporations that get involved in these data hacks to fess up to their customers and avoid situations like this,” she said.
A Google spokesperson said in nearly all of the recent cases where Nest customers have had their cameras hacked, they were not using two-factor verification, an additional security step customers are encouraged to use.