Can a Nest Doorbell Be Hacked?


2016 hack by Jason Doyle

In 2016 a flaw was discovered in Nest doorbells by Jason Doyle, a security expert from Florida. He reported his discovery to Nest immediately but was ignored by them for several months until he decided to try and push them into action by making his discovery public.

The issue that he discovered was not just limited to Nest doorbells but was present in all Nest cameras. This flaw in the system could allow hackers to create a 90-second window of time for them to do whatever they wanted.

The problem was caused by a flaw in the Bluetooth system that caused WiFi disassociation which meant that the camera could be disconnected from the WiFi by someone providing a new SSID for it to connect to. These cameras don’t support storage of any video footage so any surveillance is disabled.

When the new SSID is provided the camera disconnects from the existing WiFi network and attempts to connect to the new SSID, leaving the camera offline for between 60 and 90 seconds before it reconnects to the existing WiFi network and begins to work again as usual.

These attacks are only possible because the Nest device keeps the Bluetooth switched on all of the time, allowing hackers to take advantage of it. If the Bluetooth was disabled are the doorbell and camera are initially set up then it would not be possible. It would also help if it has some form of defense against attacks.

Nest did eventually develop a solution and created a patch to fix the issue. As Nest products are all connected to WiFi, Nest was able to update continually until the issue was fixed.

Hacks can be a positive

Although hacking is something you would always hope would never happen, it can be a useful thing at times at it can expose any weaknesses that you were unaware of, which then means you can have them fixed.

Companies don’t intentionally sell products that have security issues as it could ruin their good name, but technology is evolving all of the time. This means that something that wasn’t an issue when the product was released could become an issue in time, but when the flaw is exposed then the product can then be updated again so that it’s not an issue anymore.

How to prevent hacks

The main reason that devices can be hacked is that they are all connected to the internet, which allows hackers to access them from anywhere in the world. Therefore, we need to know how to protect ourselves and our devices from hacking, and there are a few ways that this can be done.

  • Two-factor authentication – Nest has recently added this security feature to their products and it means that a user can only access the device after they have correctly given two pieces of information to the interface. Therefore, you should always enable two-factor authentication on your Nest accounts to prevent hackers from accessing them.
  • Password – possibly one of the most important things to remember is to always make sure that you are using a strong password. Don’t use the same password for many devices and don’t choose passwords that are weak, such as consecutive numbers or birthdays. A good, strong password should be a combination of characters, letters, and numbers. If you struggle to remember your passwords then there are plenty of apps that you can use to create or keep track of them with.
  • Family accounts – setting up family accounts is a good way to prevent hackers from accessing your accounts. Don’t let anyone else use your email address and login details to access the Nest app, in fact, don’t allow anyone else to access your home security information if possible. If you need to then invite them using the family account.
  • Cloud-based system – using a cloud-based system will allow the security company to install updates and upgrade the system quickly and easily, which means that your system will always be up-to-date. You can also store your surveillance videos on the cloud.
  • Install a firewall – if you are using smart products for your home security then it is imperative that you install a firewall. This will help to prevent hackers from accessing your system and will keep your home safe.

How to know if you have been hacked already?

If you’re wondering whether your system has already been hacked without you knowing about it then there are some things that you can check to see whether your security has been breached.

  • Check your cameras – take note of whether they are moving when they are not supposed to be. If a camera is moving when it shouldn’t be, then you should unplug it straight away and check whether you have been hacked. If you have then you will need further precautions.
  • Camera lights – do your camera lights turn on randomly? Camera lights are usually on when someone is watching them. If the light is on when no one is supposed to be watching it then someone is watching who shouldn’t be.
  • Sounds – are there any noises coming from your cameras that you don’t expect? If you do hear any strange noises then it is likely that someone has hacked into it.
  • Security settings – check all of your security settings to see if anything has been changed. If they are not on the same settings that you left them then it is possible that a hacker has accessed your system and altered them.

Conclusion

Although you are probably thinking that having a security camera linked to the internet isn’t a good idea as it’s not safe, it’s not actually true all of the time.

If all of the proper security measures are followed and your system is regularly updated then security cameras can be a big help in ensuring that your home is always safe. Security cameras are an excellent deterrent against burglars and often burglars will choose a different home to rob if they see a security camera, making them a good addition to your home.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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