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Ring hackers demand $350,000 in Bitcoin from Texas couple, but something so simple ruined their plot

Published Dec 12th, 2019 12:29PM EST
ring hackers

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Amazon’s Ring cameras are now commonplace in homes of early smart tech adopters across the country, but just how secure are they? Recent reports from Ring owners read like a horror movie, with bad actors invading the internet-connected cameras and causing all manner of distress.

One of the most bizarre recent reports comes from Grand Prairie, Texas, where a couple says they awoke in the middle of the night to an alarm coming from their Ring camera. But that’s not all they heard; After the couple came to investigate, a voice over the Ring’s built-in speaker claimed that the couple’s Ring account had been terminated, and that they themselves would be “terminated” if they didn’t fork over a hefty haul of cryptocurrency.

The “hackers” demanded a whopping 50 bitcoins. Going by the current conversion rate, that’s over $350,000. In a brief video of the incident posted by local ABC affiliate WFAA, the individual who accessed the camera and its speakers can be heard laughing, so it’s unclear exactly how serious this threat was.

If the bad actors had simply accessed the couple’s Ring camera, this would likely be a bit of a non-story, but what makes this whole thing scary is that they also gained control over the home’s Ring doorbell. They used their access to the doorbell to spoof their presence outside of the couple’s home, making the homeowners believe that someone was actually stalking their property while demanding the ransom.

Ultimately the hacker’s plan was foiled when the couple decided to shut down their Ring doorbell by yanking its batteries. Without that line of communication and access to live video from inside the home, the hacker or hackers apparently called it quits and moved on.