Latest Hacker Target: Light Blubs

The ability for hackers to attack smart light blubs illustrates the potential security pitfalls of IoT.

 

Many of us have become enamored with the concept of the smart home. A fridge that tells us we are out of milk and eggs. Cool. A home automation system that locks doors and calibrates thermostats based on weather conditions. Excellent. Smart light blubs that adjust for energy savings—okay, my electric bill is down with that.

On the other hand, all may not be as wonderful as first appears. According to a New York Times article, researchers have just discovered a flaw in the wireless technology powering many of these smart home devices that could open the door for some major hacking. The experts demonstrated how others could gain control of a common brand of smart light blubs through a wireless flaw and spread an infection in a network inside a building.

The risks seemed to be tied to the ZigBee radio protocol, which is widely used in consumer devices. The researchers were able to tap into the ZigBee standard to create a computer worm that launched a chain reaction to spread malicious software among connected devices. A pair of videos highlighted how the researchers took control of the devices through the light blubs, with one showing access via a drone that uses a USB stick to produce an SOS message in Morse Code, and the other doing the same from a car driving from about 230 feet away.

No need to fret––for now. The researchers gave the light bulb manufacturer a heads up on the problem, and the company fixed the security holes prior to the report’s publication. But it still shines a light on potential for similar security breaches going forward.

 

 

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