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Here’s yet another reason to be worried about your smart home camera

Google has cut off Xiaomi security cameras’ Nest and Assistant integration after a user was inadvertently shown feed images from strangers’ homes. The incident joins a long-running list of privacy mishaps — some of which have occurred in just the last couple of weeks — and raises further concerns on whether IP-based security systems can be trusted.

The issue was first spotted by a Netherlands-based Reddit user who, when he tried to stream his Xiaomi Mijia 1080p Smart IP security camera’s feed on a Google Nest Hub, saw stills from random people’s homes instead of his own. A bunch of the nearly dozen files he shared in a Reddit post offered disturbingly clear views of a sleeping baby in a crib, a man asleep in a chair, an enclosed porch, and more.

Xiaomi camera accidentally shows user stills from strangers' feed
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In a statement to AndroidPolice, a Google spokesperson confirmed the bug and added: “[We] are in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix. In the meantime, we’re disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices.”

The shutdown applies to all the Nest-enabled Xiaomi security devices across the world and is already live. Pulling up a Xiaomi security camera feed on a Nest display, for now, throws an error message stating the stream is unavailable at the moment.

Xiaomi released a statement on Thursday, January 2, saying the issue was caused by a recent cache update that was designed to improve camera streaming quality.

“This has only happened in extremely rare conditions,” Xiaomi said. “In this case, it happened during the integration between Mi Home Security Camera Basic 1080p and the Google Home Hub with a display screen under poor network conditions.

“We have also found 1,044 users were with such integrations and only a few with extremely poor network conditions might be affected,” the company added.

While Xiaomi says it has “communicated and fixed this issue with Google,” the company is suspending the Nest integration until “the root cause has been completely solved.”

The IP-based security home camera market has had a rocky past few weeks as companies continue to struggle to keep their customers and their private footage secure. A couple of days ago, smart home appliance maker Wyze revealed a security breach has compromised data of reportedly 2.4 million users. Two weeks before that, a man was able to hack a woman’s Ring camera to make explicit comments.

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Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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