BY JACK MORSE
It’s the stuff of nightmares.
A former ADT technician pleaded guilty Thursday to accessing customers’ home video feeds thousands of times over the course of four and a half years. According to a Department of Justice press release, the 35-year-old Texas man accomplished this by simply adding himself to the accounts of approximately 200 people, allowing him to remotely watch them at will.
And yes, his motivations appear to be exactly what you would think.
“Mr. [Telesforo] Aviles took note of which homes had attractive women, then repeatedly logged into these customers’ accounts in order to view their footage for sexual gratification, he admits,” reads the press release. “Plea papers indicate he watched numerous videos of naked women and couples engaging in sexual activity inside their homes.”
ADT acknowledged the incident on its website, and clarified that there were 220 victims whose accounts Aviles accessed on 9,600 occasions.
“We are grateful to the Dallas FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for holding Telesforo Aviles responsible for a federal crime,” wrote ADT in a brief Friday statement.
The horror of Aviles’ actions stands in stark contrast to the ease of which he pulled them off. As the DOJ notes, all he had to do to gain access to cameras inside customers’ homes was add himself to their ADT Pulse accounts.
The official ADT Pulse website sells the service as offering “More views – and better control – of your smart home.”
The question now, of course, is for who.
Notably, according to ADT, the company only caught Aviles in the act because a customer reported a suspicious email on their ADT Pulse account. The company first went public with the news in April of 2020, and all the victims appear to be in the greater Dallas area.
Aviles faces up to five years in prison.
This is not the first time people have found their own home security cameras turned against them. Ring cameras, an Amazon-owned home security product, were repeatedly hacked in 2019 and Ring admitted that some its employees tried to watch customers’ private video feeds.
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In other words, this stuff keeps happening. Internet-connected cameras will almost certainly always be vulnerable to some kind of unscrupulous actor — whether that be a random hacker or, as in this case, someone from the company that installed it in your home in the first place.
It’s a good, albeit extremely distressing, reminder that you’re almost certainly better off not turning your own bedroom into a surveillance state.