Now here is the bad news: Placing a group of wirelessly connected devices in a single region could prove irresistible. Also it can permit them to spread malicious code through the atmosphere, such as, for instance, a flu virus on an airplane.
Researchers report in a paper to be made public on Thursday that they’ve uncovered a flaw in a radio technology that’s usually included in smart home devices like lights, switches, locks, thermostats and many of the aspects of the much-ballyhooed “smart house” of the long run.
The researchers focused on the Philips Hue smart light bulb and found the wireless flaw could allow hackers to seize control of the light bulbs, according to researchers in the Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
That might not sound like a big deal. But imagine thousands or even hundreds of thousands of web-connected devices in close proximity. By undermining only one of these malware created by hackers might be spread like a pathogen on the list of devices.
Plus they wouldn’t have to have direct access to the apparatus to infect them: The researchers were able to disperse disease in a network inside building.
Only two weeks past, hackers denied access to entire chunks of the net by creating a deluge of traffic that overwhelmed the servers of a New Hampshire firm called Dyn, which helps handle key components of the web.
Security experts say they consider the hackers found the hp needed due to their strike by taking control of a range of web-connected devices, but the hackers didn’t make use of the procedure detailed in the report being made public Thursday. One Chinese wireless camera maker said passwords that are poor on a few of its products were partly to blame for the strike.
ZigBee is a wireless standard popular in house consumer devices. While it’s imagined to be protected, it hasn’t been held up to the scrutiny of other security procedures used around the net.
The researchers discovered the ZigBee standard can be used to create a so called computer worm to spread malicious software among web-connected devices.
Computer worms, which can keep replicating from one apparatus to another, get less focus today, but in the first years of the web that is commercial, they were a menace. In 1988, one worm by some estimates brought a tenth of the computers connected to the world wide web down.
Ever since then, how many internet-connected devices has corkscrew into the billions, and with it the dangers of a cleverly created worm.
What exactly could hackers do with the apparatus that are compromised? For one, they might create programs which help in strikes such as the one that hit on Dyn. Or they could be a springboard send spam, or merely to steal information.
They may also set an LED light right into a strobe pattern that could trigger epileptic seizures or simply make people quite uncomfortable. It might seem farfetched, but the research workers have already shown that possibility.
The colour and brightness of the Philips Hue smart light bulb can be controlled from a smartphone or a computer. The researchers showed that by simply compromising just one light bulb, it was possible to infect a sizable number of lights that were nearby within minutes. The worm software carried a malicious payload to every light — even whenever they weren’t part of exactly the same private network.
In creating a model of the infection process, they simulated the distribution of the lights in Paris over an area of about 40 square miles and noted that the attack would potentially spread when as few as 15,000 devices were in place over that area.
The researcher said they had notified Philips of the potential vulnerability and the company had asked the researchers not to go public with the research paper until it had been corrected. Philips fixed the vulnerability in a patch issued on Oct. 4 and recommended that customers install it through a smartphone application. Still, it played down the significance of the problem.