In brief: An issue with the integration between Google's Nest Hub and Xiaomi's Miija smart camera can apparently lead to someone seeing the camera feeds from a different home that uses the same setup. The two companies are currently working to solve the issue, but this is a new reminder that the convenience of the smart home can come at the cost of security and privacy.
As we accumulate smart devices in our increasingly digital lives, it's easy to lose track of the many security and privacy risks they pose. Some people are entrenched in one of the larger ecosystems from the likes of Google and Samsung, but more often than not there are homes with a mix of devices from different vendors, which is an additional source of problems.
Recently, Reddit user Dio-V found a peculiar image displayed by his Google Nest Hub, which was supposed to show a live feed from a Xiaomi Miija camera. On closer inspection, the image appeared to originate from various random homes that were using the same setup.
This has prompted Google to disable the integration between Xiaomi devices and Google Home and Google Nest while it's working on a fix for the issue.
Xiaomi told Engadget that it is aware of the problem, which it described as a caching issue. The good news is that only 1,044 users could have been affected, and the company explained that the exact conditions to trigger the reception of stills from random cameras could've been met in just a handful of cases. Those of you who own such a setup might also be pleased to know the issue doesn't occur if the camera is linked to the Mi Home app.
Apparently, the problem has its roots in a cache update that happened on December 26, 2019, which was supposed to improve the overall streaming quality of the Xiaomi Mi Home Security Camera Basic 1080p models.
Xiaomi isn't the only company to deal with such issues on its smart things. Just last month, security camera maker Wyze reported that it accidentally left a database on an insecure server, leaking the details of more than 2.4 million customers. And even Google failed to reveal the presence of a microphone in its Nest Secure system, which unsurprisingly led to a lot of angry customers worried about their privacy.
On a more positive note, tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Google, along with the Zigbee Alliance, are scrambling to develop an open-source standard for smart home devices that should make it harder for issues like these to manifest in future products.