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Google Nest camera users targeted in sex tape scam – here’s how to spot it

Google Nest security camera owners are being targeted in a ‘sextortion’ scam by criminals claiming to have captured compromising footage from the smart home devices.

Cyber security company Mimecast says it found 1,700 instance of emails being sent to smart camera owners, most of them in the United States, throughout this month.

The scam, which also targets owners of other smart camera brands, aims to extort people users by promising to release footage they do not actually have, unless they pay a ransom to suppress it.

The email asks users to click a link and log into an external web email account and told to download some genuine footage from other cameras. They’re then told their own X-rated footage will be posted to the site unless they pay 500 Euros (around £426) in various retailers gift cards, or Bitcoin.

Related: Best security cameras – indoor and outdoor

It’s important to remember that the scammers do not have any of this footage, nor do they have access to the security cameras. However, recent reports about the ease of hacking smart cameras and various security lapses from manufacturers may be helping the criminals sell the scam.

“The campaign is exploiting the fact people know these [IoT] devices can be hacked very easily and preying on fears of that,” Mimecast’s head of data science overwatch, Kiri Addison told Computer Weekly.

“It is now widely known that many IoT devices lack basic security and are vulnerable to hacking, meaning that victims are more likely to believe the fraudsters’ claims, since the possibility of their device having really been hacked is highly plausible.

“Ensuring that users are aware of sextortion as a phishing technique is a key part of the defence against these campaigns.”

It’s not known whether any Google Nest users, or those with other cameras, have fallen for the scam. It’s also not known whether the scammers knew their targets had cameras in their homes or whether they were trying their luck with emails.

A spokesperson for Google Nest said: “Any incident where someone is made to feel unsafe in their home is deeply unfortunate and something Nest works hard to prevent. That’s why privacy and security are the foundation of our mission.”

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