Nest Doorbell safety fears arise as Google Nest Hub shows stranger's cam

google nest hello doorbell
(Image credit: Future)

Many of us rely on smart video doorbells like the Google Nest Hello to help keep our homes safe – but in one worrying instance, a user discovered that their Google Nest Hub was displaying footage taken from a stranger's Nest doorbell. 

Reddit user u/The_Mustard_Tiger took to the site after claiming that a stranger's Nest Hello Doorbell feed randomly popped up on their own Google Nest Hub, showing a someone walking up to the front door of a house they didn't recognize.

Puzzlingly, the user said that they do not own a Nest camera, so the footage couldn't possibly be from their own front door – which raises concerns over the security of Google's Nest Hello Doorbell. 

Users receiving notifications from a complete stranger's front door is bad enough, but imagine if footage from an indoor Nest cam was randomly broadcast to other Google Home Hubs around the world? That could represent a serious breach of personal data. 

We've reached out to Google for comment, but are yet to receive a response. 

Are smart security cameras really safe?

Video doorbells have long been the subject of debate, particularly when it comes to security. 

Earlier this year, hackers took advantage of some Google Nest users in a sextortion scam, in which the perpetrators claimed to have compromising footage of the victims – which they would then surrender for a payment.

It's important to note that the scam wasn't the result of an IoT breach (that is, the victims' own security cameras were not actually hacked). While the footage was taken from the Google Nest site, it didn't actually belong to any of the victims targeted in sextortion campaign.

Google now requires all Nest users to enable two-factor authentication, which it says "helps prevent someone from signing in to your account in the Nest app without your permission".

google nest hub

The Google Nest Hub (Image credit: Google)

That doesn't mean that connected devices are totally foolproof, though, with everything from Ring Doorbells to smart toys for children having been proven to be hackable. 

Google Nest's biggest competitor, Ring, came under fire in late 2019 after a data breach exposed the personal data of more than 3,000 device owners.

Further concerns surrounding Ring, and in particular its Neighbors app, are on the rise, with some fearing that the company is building a for-profit private surveillance network.  

Ring addressed some of these security concerns in February, unveiling a new web dashboard of privacy controls that allows its users to better manage the access settings of their devices and keeping hackers out.

Whatever smart security camera you own, be sure to enable two-factor authentication if you can, and avoid opening suspicious emails. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.