New scam uses victims’ home security cameras against them

A new scam is aiming for unsuspecting victims by using their own home interior cameras against them. Scammers are contacting victims via email, telling them they’ve been recorded privately on home security cameras, then trying to extort money from them by threatening to post the footage online.

“Instead of it saying, ‘We’ve hacked your computer, We’ve used your webcam’, now it’s ‘We’re in your security system and we’re seeing everything you’re doing in your home,’” said Southwest Florida-based security expert Carrie Kerski. Kerski is the president of Griffin Force personal security firm.

The scam extortion email provides a link that leads to a web page showing generic footage from a Nest camera or another surveillance camera in a common area, like a bar or restaurant. According to the cybercriminal, those areas are supposedly familiar to the victim. The generic footage is meant to convince the victim he or she has been recorded elsewhere for a long period of time.

Kerski says the threat in the email may not be entirely empty though. Internet-based security systems that operate on a home’s wifi system are vulnerable to hackers and a true cybercriminal could view or record views of a device on the interior of a home for long periods of time.

“Personally in my home, I would never have those cameras on the inside. Have the underlying knowledge that they could be hacked and anybody could be watching. In your home, you should have your WiFi network configured so there are different partitions. So there’s one that you and your family use. If you have a gamer in the house, maybe have them on a separate one. When you have family and friends come over, separate one for them. If you have a security system you can have a separate one for that,” Kerski said.