Cable box hacker terrorizes grandmother, child

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTVR) – Someone hacked into family’s cable box and typed sexually explicit messages directed toward a child on the television screen, according to the child’s grandmother Alana Meeks.

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

Meeks said the messages started to appear on her television screen last week. She said when someone in her family walks into the room, the hacker takes control of the box and starts to type — like he can see what is happening.

“It’s astonishing,” Fred Cate, research director for the Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity, told “It’s spooky because there aren’t a lot of ways you can get into someone’s cable box. 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.”

Both police and  AT&T are investigating to determine who is behind the reported cable box hack.

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


  • Gerry

    If they can see what’s going on, then they are in the neighborhood. Can police get warrants to search the neighbors?

    • Tom

      Not unless someone claims to have seen evidence of a neighbor having the means to snoop on this family…..I’d get a new cable box too

      • mike


    • Ryan

      Sadly, that would do nothing. It’s not just line of sight. Verizon Fios can be accessed from a computer or other electronic devices and can be changed from that. My dad has changed the channel on my tv from the first floor of our home with his Ipad. Also, one of our neighbors behind that has Fios interferes with our Cable boxes sometimes. So it’s not just line of sight. The cable companies have come up with ways people can access their cable anywhere anytime. It’s no surprise someone can hack it.

    • EaglesQuestions

      Don’t be snide. The problem isn’t simply messages on her tv; the problem is someone nearby watching her every move and trying to frighten her. Unplug the box and they’ll just use another medium.

  • Fnord

    As someone well versed in security I can say without a doubt that this is not the hardest thing to do. Even my own cable box has a remote login. So there are numerous ways this could be achieved. It really sounds to me like there is a computer in the house with a webcam on it which someone has control of. The cable box was just another step to owning the network. This is how someone can know when someone is in the house without being in the area, or even in the same country.
    So when these people realized all they had to spy on was an old lady and a 9-year-old girl, extortion was most likely out of the picture, so they decided to play a little game. Not much of a game, and it’s not 100% accurate that this is how it happened, but it’s one scenario that could have played out.

    • tdii200

      Just turn off the WIFI signal and problem solved, as them boxes are always connected to the internet using wireless routers, best bet is to change the DEFAULT password of the log in to the router and change the IP adress to static, problem solved

  • Chris W

    Its obvious whats going on. Someone is connected to her network, either they have the wifi key, someone hit the wps button at the right time, or she has no security set at all. They’re using a remote app to control the box.

  • MIKE

    LOL thats not a hacker lmfao. Its their neighbor, basically their cable box is picking up signals from the neighbors remote control (the cable company’s mistake).

    This shit happened to me a while ago when I was living in a smaller house, whenever the neighbors changed the channel it would change the channel on my TV also and when I changed it then it would change the channel for them.

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