If you bought a used Nest camera you may want to put some tape over the lens right away. Or, you know, just stop using it. That’s because a former Nest camera owner has discovered that he could still access the camera’s feed via his Wink smart-home hub. As Wirecutter reports:
A member of the Facebook Wink Users Group discovered that after selling his Nest cam, he was still able to access images from his old camera—except it wasn’t a feed of his property. Instead, he was tapping into the feed of the new owner, via his Wink account. As the original owner, he had connected the Nest Cam to his Wink smart-home hub, and somehow, even after he reset it, the connection continued.
We decided to test this ourselves and found that, as it happened for the person on Facebook, images from our decommissioned Nest Cam Indoor were still viewable via a previously linked Wink hub account—although instead of a video stream, it was a series of still images snapped every several seconds.
What’s frightening about this is that the owner of the original camera did the recommended factory reset before selling his used device—yet that didn’t stop him from being able to access the camera’s feed in the new home.
Wirecutter confirmed that they too could access the image feed of their factory reset Nest Cam Indoor camera via a previously linked Wink hub account. As Wirecutter states: “In simpler terms: If you buy and set up a used Nest indoor camera that has been paired with a Wink hub, the previous owner may have unfettered access to images from that camera. And we currently don’t know of any cure for this problem.”
Right now it’s not clear if this flaw affects only Nest Cam Indoor products or Nest’s entire lineup of Nest Cam Outdoor, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, and the Nest Hello video doorbell products. And worst of all, it’s unknown if this flaw can be fixed. Until official word from Nest (we’ve reached out to them for comment), the best thing to do if you’ve bought a used Nest camera and value your privacy is to unplug it immediately.
Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson sent the following statement:
“We were recently made aware of an issue affecting some Nest cameras connected to third-party partner services via Works with Nest. We’ve since rolled out a fix for this issue that will update automatically, so if you own a Nest camera, there’s no need to take any action.”