Hackers Can Easily Take ‘Full Control’ of Popular Smart Doorbell Cameras

Rendering of an Eken smart doorbell.

A new report finds that some popular smart doorbells are susceptible to hacking, allowing infiltrators to easily take control of them if they are nearby.

A test of security cameras sold online through major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Sears, Temu, and Shein revealed major security flaws, including the ability “to take control of the video doorbell on their target’s home, watching when they and their family members come and go,” according to Consumer Reports. The nonprofit’s report says they are sold under the brand names Eken and Tuck, though it appears they may be sold under other brand names as well.

“On a recent Thursday afternoon, a Consumer Reports journalist received an email containing a grainy image of herself waving at a doorbell camera she’d set up at her back door,” the Consumer Reports article reads. “If the message came from a complete stranger, it would have been alarming. Instead, it was sent by Steve Blair, a CR privacy and security test engineer who had hacked into the doorbell from 2,923 miles away.”

Additionally, Consumer Reports states the cameras “expose your home IP address and WiFi network name to the internet without encryption,” which a digital researcher told the outlet indicates use of “bad practices.”

Anyone who can physically access the smart doorbell can create an Aiwit account, walk up to the device, hold the button to activate pairing mode, connect the doorbell to a WiFi hotspot, and ultimately gain control of the device, according to Consumer Reports. As the publication points out, the true owner can take back control. However, once paired, the hacker could see the serial number of the smart doorbell, which would allow them to remotely gain access without any further password or company account. Further, this would not notify the owner.

Simply sharing the serial number, whether with a loved one for a second pair of eyes or by uploading the information online, can reportedly allow anyone access to the smart doorbell’s time-stamped footage. Consumer Reports said providing the serial number was how to the remote test was conducted.

Of course, these smart doorbells aren’t as popular as the Amazon-backed Ring doorbells. However, they are far cheaper, which may make them very appealing to consumers. A standard wireless Ring doorbell camera can cost $100 when bought new, far more than the $30 to $40 it costs to purchase an Eken or Tuck doorbell on Amazon, as PetaPixel found. There are multiple listings for Eken and Tuck smart doorbells, but the highest selling listing PetaPixel viewed on Amazon said it sold more than 2,000 units in the last month. Consumer Reports tallied more than 4,200 sales for January 2024. Some listings PetaPixel viewed, backed up by Consumer Reports‘ findings, displayed an “Overall Pick” label on Amazon as well.

Security has been a large topic looming over smart doorbell conversations, but the new report details ever greater security issues.

Image credits: Eken