UPDATE: See the statement received from Google at the bottom of this story.
You might want to think twice about buying used Nest security cameras.
A new report reveals that secondhand models can allow previous owners to spy on new users — even if they correctly follow Nest’s instructions on resetting the device. There’s currently no fix for the security flaw.
Turning to the secondhand market is a great way to pick up the latest tech at heavily discounted prices. But you should be extra careful about what you’re buying when that tech could be used to spy on you.
That’s especially true when it comes to Nest security cameras, which have a security flaw so worrying that you should probably avoid buying used models altogether for now.
How used Nest cameras could be spying on you
The flaw affects Nest cameras previously linked to a Wink hub. Even if those cameras are properly reset and disconnected from the hub, they may still allow previous owners to access images and videos captured in their new home.
“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,” reports The Wirecutter.
“Instead, he was tapping into the feed of the new owner, via his Wink account.”
This particular Nest camera was reset before it was sold, but somehow remained connected to the original owner’s Wink hub.
There’s no fix for now
The Wirecutter was able to replicate the issue using a decommissioned Nest camera (reset using Nest’s own instructions) that was previously linked to a Wink account.
In this case, a video live stream could not be obtained. But a series of still images was accessible via the Wink app — despite the camera being connected to a new Nest account.
This is an obvious security flaw for which there is no fix for now. And for that reason, it’s probably best you steer clear of buying used Nest cameras. Nest is yet to offer a solution or even a comment on the problem.
UPDATE: A Google spokesperson contacted Cult of Mac with 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.