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Man hacks Texas couple’s security camera, asks Alexa to play ‘Despacito’

FORT WORTH, Texas – A Texas couple lying in bed last month was startled to hear a stranger’s voice in their apartment, asking their Amazon Alexa device to play a Justin Bieber song, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“It was just a voice, out of the blue,” Audrey Coleman of Fort Worth told WFAA. “He said, ‘Alexa, play “Despacito.”’”

Her husband, Hunter Coleman, ran into the living room and saw that nobody was inside their apartment. But he discovered that someone was speaking to them and watching them through the Nest security camera that faces their apartment’s front door, the Star-Tribune reported.

"The (security) camera was all lit up red, and it was someone speaking through the Nest," Hunter Coleman told WFAA. "That’s when he started yelling all the curse words and calling me names and telling me to stop looking at the camera."

Hunter Coleman said the camera begins to film when it senses a motion or a person entering their home, the Star-Telegram reported.

The Colemans said their password had been hacked, and there have been other incidents around the country where the devices have been compromised, the newspaper reported.

In a statement cited by the Star-Tribune, Nest officials said there was no breach on their end, but blamed weak passwords and the lack of a two-step authentication process.

“These recent 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,” the company said. “We take security in the home extremely seriously, and we’re actively introducing features that will reject compromised passwords, allow customers to monitor access to their accounts and track external entities that abuse credentials.”

Update from @Nest VP/GM Richi Chandra to all customers reassuring them the Nest platform has not experienced a security breach. This comes after (inaccurate) media reports claiming Nest had been hacked. #SmartHome pic.twitter.com/WcP4KGxZ8V

— Ben Wood (@benwood) February 6, 2019

Mark Nunnikhoven, who works at the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, said using a long, random password is essential to prevent hacking.

"Something like that is easily done by (a) criminal," Nunnikhoven told WFAA. "That was originally billed like, ‘Oh, the Nest camera has been hacked.’ No, they logged in through a weak password.”

Writing on social media, Audrey Coleman told consumers to be vigilant.

“If you do get hacked, make sure to check that the hacker hasn’t added themself to the Home Share where they would be able to get in without knowing your password,” she wrote on Facebook, according to the Star-Telegram.

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