We’ve discussed in the past how Nest cameras may not be as secure as we’d like. Hackers have breached the security on them in the past and used have them to terrorize the people living in the household. Unfortunately, it’s possible for Google Home to see other people’s Nest cameras, even if they never intend to!
This news broke on the Google Home subreddit where user The_Mustard_Tiger posted a thread called “Is this your house? Random nest cam on my google home!.” The post links to a GIF showing the owner recording their Home hub. Sure enough, displayed on the screen is a Nest camera belonging to a stranger, if the post is to be believed.
How Did this Happen?
Nobody really knows for sure why this person’s Home hub began randomly streaming someone else’s camera system. Of course, given the sensitive nature of this flaw, a Google representative quickly arrived in the thread to resolve the issue.
The_Mustard_Tiger then discussed what they talked about with the representative:
“Asked for the time zone we’re in (timestamp is in the video), and I provided firmware and build info (wasn’t asked for but I provided it). Asked what we were doing (if anything) on the hub when the feed appeared or if it just popped up. (It just popped up.)
“They’ve also just asked how I got the device (was it bought new, used, gift). FWIW, I bought the Hub new from Kohls in the shrink wrap in December when they were doing some Kohl’s cash kickbacks on Google devices. … Rachel’s been responsive through the day letting me know they’re reviewing stuff and asking questions as needed.”
As such, this isn’t a case of secondhand hardware remembering its previous owner. The Home hub was brand new, meaning this was a problem with Google and not the owner.
One of the commenters on the Reddit thread noted that this isn’t the first time Google Home has let owners peer into other people’s homes. A previous bug allowed owners of old Nest cameras to continue using them, even after deregistering them. This, however, was more a problem with secondhand purchases and has since been fixed.
A Worrying Flaw
Unfortunately, this flaw with Google Hub is very worrying. The world of IoT already has a huge issue with hackers gaining access to smart devices. Now it seems that innocent well-meaning users are accidentally causing security breaches, too!
As IoT moves forward, it’s absolutely essential that companies keep their systems as secure as possible. This doesn’t just include forgetting about a secure product after its release; it means that companies need to actively track how each of their devices fares “in the wild.” When an error appears, they need to respond and fix it as quickly as possible.
While this is quite a daunting task for any developer, it is unfortunately what needs to be done until a better solution is found. If a business doesn’t keep up, any flaws discovered in their devices will be exploited by hackers. The longer it takes for the company to fix the flaw, the more damage a hacker can do to the company’s customers.
Keeping IoT Secure
This recent flaw discovered in Nest cameras shows the importance of constant monitoring and fixed bugs. If a company falls behind, it can cause severe damage to both their customer’s privacy and their reputation.
Fortunately, countries are devising laws to protect customers, such as Australia’s proposed code of practice.