Mainland netizen raises concerns over alleged hacked Xiaomi surveillance camera

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18th April 2023 – (Hong Kong) As smart home technology becomes increasingly popular in Hong Kong, many households have installed various types of smart furniture such as air conditioners, lights, and robots. Some pet owners and parents also choose to install surveillance cameras at home to monitor their pets or children. However, on 16th April, a mainland Chinese netizen posted on Xiaohongshu that she witnessed someone hacking into her surveillance camera and controlling it, which left her feeling terrified.

The netizen claimed that her surveillance camera suddenly started moving on its own while she was at home. Initially, she thought it was her boyfriend remotely controlling the camera, but she soon realized that the movement was unnatural and her boyfriend denied controlling it. She immediately changed her Xiaomi account password.

In the video she posted, the camera moved towards the feeding machine and the wall. She pointed out that only she and her boyfriend knew the password, and they were both aware that the feeding machine and the wall were there. Therefore, it must have been the work of an outsider.

Many netizens expressed their shock and concern about the incident, as it revealed that personal privacy can be violated at any time, even with a well-known brand like Xiaomi. Some netizens shared their own experiences with hacked surveillance cameras, and some warned the original poster that it might not be the Xiaomi account that was hacked, but the Wi-Fi network at home. If the Wi-Fi network is hacked, all devices in the family are at risk of being stolen or spied upon. Initially, the original poster thought it was too much trouble to change dozens of passwords, but she was eventually convinced by other netizens that privacy is more important.

Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has tested 10 surveillance cameras on the market, and nine of them have different security vulnerabilities. Only the “arlo Pro 4” home surveillance camera meets European network security standards, with an overall rating of 4 stars, and many indicators score full marks. Its approximate selling price is HK$1,888. Other brands, including the Xiaomi Mi surveillance camera used by the original poster, have various security issues.

The Consumer Council advises buyers to change the password immediately after installation and not to use the default password. In addition, users should only activate the application and camera when needed, turn off the application and camera after use, and avoid using public and unmanaged devices to log in to their account. Users should also avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for surveillance to prevent their account information from being secretly recorded or stolen.