Family claims hacker taking control of cable box, sending threats

INDIANAPOLIS (March 26, 2014) — A family claims they are being terrorized by their cable box. For more than a week, personal and harassing messages are showing up on their TVs.

Alana Meeks has no idea who’s behind it.

“This stuff is uncanny. I haven’t heard anything like this in my life,” she said. “He says he’s a stalker.”

Meeks said it started more than a week ago — “he” or someone has taken control of her AT&T cable box and typing messages on two of her TVs.

The family showed us a few. One wrote: ‘ISEEYOUHAHA’. Others even threatened to hurt Alana’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Aniya.

“He wants to do more than hurt her,” said Meeks. “He wants to have sex with her. Pervert.”

Some were quick to judge. However, an officer who stopped by saw it himself, according to a police report.

Meeks even tried covering her windows in case someone was watching. It didn’t work.

“If you want me, come get me,” she said. “You know where I’m at, but you can’t have my grand baby.”

FOX59 cameras were rolling when it happened again. Whoever was typing knew we were there, too.

“It’s astonishing. It’s spooky because there aren’t a lot of ways you can get into someone’s cable box,” said Fred Cate, research director for  the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity. “The most common ways would be using a remote control, an infrared device, but that’s line of sight. You usually have to be in the room or within a close distance and clear vision to the box you’re changing the channel on or doing the typing on.”

Cate said an infrared repeater may be another theory. The device is used primarily by homeowners trying to hide their electronics or home theater system from sight. The repeater essentially converts infrared light coming from a remote control to an electrical signal that can be easily distributed over electrical wiring to one or more components.

“Whoever did this has had to have had physical access to the apartment (or the area outside the apartment window) at some time or another,” said Cate. “That access could have been as little as sticking an LED-like bulb through a ceiling or wall or in a light fixture. The LED-like bulb must have a power source; it has to be plugged in or have a connected battery pack somewhere nearby.”

AT&T released a statement: “We take security seriously and we are working with the customer to determine the cause and remedy of the situation.”

Meeks wants the hacker caught.

“I want this [person] out of my life. I want [this person] to go to jail,” she said. “That’s where [this person] needs to be.”


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