Xiaomi says it figured out why Nest devices were showing strangers' photos

Xiaomi says it figured out why Nest devices were showing strangers' photos
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Another day, another smart home device scandal. This time, it’s not about Ring or Wyze, but rather, Xiaomi. And Google is stepping in to help address the security incident. Here’s everything you need to know.

What happened?

Google recently stopped Xiaomi devices from accessing its Nest Hub and Google Assistant. It announced this decision after a Xiaomi camera owner reported seeing unfamiliar photos, presumably from other users’ Xiaomi cameras, displayed on their Nest Hub device. This issue, first reported on Reddit and spotted by Android Police, has been confirmed by Google. It says it’s in contact with Xiaomi to work on a fix.

In October 2019, Google-owned Nest announced a device access program, but with several limitations on which third-party devices can work with Nest devices. There are only a couple dozen cameras that support Nest displays, for instance. So, to help limit the impact of this security incident, Google has taken the cautious route, by cutting off Xiaomi’s access until it can get things sorted. 

“We’re disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices,” Google said, and it provided no information on when or if access will be reinstated.

Who is at fault?

Reddit user Dio-V recently claimed their new Xiaomi Mijia 1080p Smart IP security camera randomly began streaming still images to their Google Nest Hub display, and that these images appeared to be coming from other users’ homes.

The Reddit user even told The Verge that they saw photos of a porch, a person sleeping in a chair, and a baby in a crib. 

In a statement to Pocket-lint, Xiaomi blamed the issue on a 26 December “cache update” meant to improve camera streaming quality. It also claims to have already fixed the issue, noting it only happened in “extremely rare conditions”.

In the case with the Reddit user, Xiaomi said it must’ve happened “during the integration between Mi Home Security Camera Basic 1080p and the Google Home Hub with a display screen under poor network conditions”.

It also said the problem wouldn’t happen “if the camera is linked to the Xiaomi’s Mi Home app”. The Xiaomi-Nest integration remains unavailable to all users, however, until the “root cause has been completely solved”, according to Xiaomi.

What should you do?

If you own a Xiaomi camera, perhaps consider turning it off and unlinking it from your Wi-Fi network, smart home systems, and Nest devices until Xiaomi speaks up and ultimately rolls out a fix. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

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