The place you always want to feel the safest is at your home, particularly around the holidays. So when someone does something that damages those feelings of safety, it can feel extensively violating.
Ashley LeMay, the mother of the household, purchased the Ring home devices upon the recommendation from a mom friend, thinking they'd be a great device to check in on her three daughters in their bedrooms.
LeMay is a nurse and was looking for a way to be able to check in with her girls and also to feel more connected with them during her night shifts.
LeMay said of her friend's experience:
"She had one and she was like watching her kids on her phone, and I was like, 'oh you can actually speak to them. That's really neat."
The experience of seeing her friend interacting with her own children from her phone piqued LeMay's interest, and when the devices appeared as a major Black Friday deal, purchasing one for each of her daughter's bedrooms seemed like a no-brainer.
"I did a lot of research on these before I got them. You know, I really felt like it was safe."
The problem was, upon installing the devices in her home, LeMay did not complete the two-step identification login that the Ring company recommends, which makes the devices much easier to hack.
Only four days after installing the devices, one guy was able to hack into one of LeMay's devices, terrorizing her eight-year-old daughter, Alyssa LeMay, in the process.
You can watch ABC News' video coverage here, which contains a chilling clip from the Ring device:
New security warning for in-home smart cameras l ABC News youtu.be
The day of the hack, Ashley LeMay was out running an errand, while her husband was at home, taking care of their three daughters.
Nothing could prepare them for the surprise that happened next, when little Alyssa LeMay heard music and thumping sounds coming from her bedroom upstairs.
Alyssa LeMay said:
"First, what happened I was in the hallway. I thought it was my sister, because I hear music. It's lke 'tiptoe through the window.' So I come upstairs and I hear some banging noise, and I am like, 'Who is that?'"
The response came from her Ring device:
"I'm Santa Claus."
The voice was allegedly male, and the guy on the other side of the device encouraged Alyssa to destroy things in her room. He told her she could do basically anything they wanted, while it was just the two of them in the room.
Scared, Alyssa called out for her mom, who wasn't home yet:
The voice interjected:
"I'm Santa Claus. Don't you want to be my best friend?"
Shortly after, Alyssa's father showed up and took her away from the room, out of sight of the camera.
LeMay saw a replay of the exchange on her phone on her way back from running errands and hurried inside to her family before even watching the whole video.
"I watched the video, and I mean my heart just like… I didn't even get to the end where she is screaming, 'Mommy, Mommy,' before I like ran inside."
LeMay has since disconnected the Ring devices, and they await unplugged on their kitchen counter to be returned to the store.
LeMay has also been in contact with the Ring company and admitted to not setting up the two-step authentication login upon installing the devices. The company assured LeMay that safety and privacy is their number one priority.
They also released a public statement, assuring the public that the hack was not a reflection of a company-wide breach.
The company stated:
"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."
Whether it was a company-wide breach or a personal one, the LeMay family was shaken by the experience.
"They could have watched them sleeping, changing. I mean, they could have seen all kinds of things."
Though the story is chilling, many have shared on Twitter how they are not at all surprised that such a thing could happen with the Ring home device or any other home security devices.
@nypost So you pay to have a spy device placed in your home then get shocked when spies arrive? 🤔— Resident of Clown World 2020 (@Resident of Clown World 2020)1576230456.0
@nypost Well that explains the whole theory " he knows if you are sleeping "— Mister Sir ! 🇨🇦 (@Mister Sir ! 🇨🇦)1576229619.0
@USATODAY WOW it wouldn’t surprise me at all not to much does anymore . Smh 🤦🏾♀️— L G (@L G)1576186935.0
@USATODAY Doesn't help when 80% of consumers use dumb passwords like "password" and the names of their dog. These… https://t.co/3fsTdW4zKB— 🇺🇸 Irony the Clown 🇺🇸 (@🇺🇸 Irony the Clown 🇺🇸)1576176490.0
Predictable or not, such a breach in security inside the home could be emotionally debilitating for a family, especially young children.
This is certainly a reminder to use all proper authentication steps available to us, but it may leave some questioning whether or not to use the devices at all.