On New Year’s Day, Dio looked at his Google Nest Hub and clicked on the camera tab to see video from his Xiaomi camera, expecting to see a live feed of the blackboard he had the smart device pointed to.
Instead, he saw stills from a stranger’s camera, pointing at what looked like someone’s kitchen. Confused, he did it again and again and got a different image each time. Only every now and then it would be an image from his own camera.
He had seen inside someone’s living room, a baby sleeping, a person sitting in the kitchen and another photo of a child with toys, according to stills he posted in a Reddit thread highlighting the issue on Wednesday.
Dio, from the Netherlands, declined to give his full name out of safety concerns. He said his camera and the Nest Hub were on the latest firmware when he first started seeing the strangers’ photos.
“I’m just glad I didn’t have one pointed at our bed or shower,” he said in an email.
It’s unclear what caused the images to start popping up on his Nest Hub.
“We’re aware of the issue and are in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix. In the meantime, we’re disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices,” Google said. The company isn’t aware of other instances of this happening.
Xiaomi didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Smart devices are notorious for security concerns, like when hackers took advantage of Ring’s authentication process and were able to hijack video doorbells and harass owners. Security issues on smart cameras are yet another reason for anxiety, since hackers could get a direct feed on people’s activities.
Dio said he wasn’t doing anything malicious when he discovered the technical flaw, and mostly found it by accident when he was testing his Xiaomi Mijia smart camera, which he bought from AliExpress in June.
The camera can be linked to Google Nest devices through the Mi Home app, which Dio said he primarily used.