Security cameras are a popular way to keep an eye on your property or your loved ones. But it can also raise privacy concerns as was the case this week.
A Reddit user discovered that its Xiaomi security device, connected to his Google Nest Hub wasn't showing his camera feed but that of random people who have the same hardware. Every time the user requested a feed, he would see a camera still from someone else's camera. The feeds included an image of a baby asleep.
Google subsequently told Android Police that it's shutting down Xiaomi's access to Google Assistant as a result.
It's not clear whats to blame for the incident
Media reports were quick to note that there haven't been any other reports of similar issues, which could mean it's only affecting a small number of users. It's also not clear if its a Nest issue or something amiss with Xiaomi's software. The issue with the Xiaomi device and Google's Nest Hub is just the latest in a string of incidents and warnings about smart cameras and smart speakers.
This past fall Security Research Lab researchers demonstrated how they were able to create third party apps with malicious code embedded in them and then had them hosted by Amazon and Google. The apps would enable a hacker to spy on a smart assistant user and steal sensitive, identifying information. The researchers developed eight apps all of which passed both companies' security tests.
Security cameras can be crime fighters too
While security cameras like Xiaomi and Amazon's Ring do raise privacy concerns they can also act as crime fighters. That was the case in the fall when security cameras caught a Fort Lauderdale, Florida man cutting the brakes on e-scooters. The Ring doorbell caught the man in the act in the wee hours of the night.