A new paper released from researchers at Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv and the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada has revealed the inherent vulnerabilities of all the smart technology with which we're now equipping our homes.
Having a cluster of wirelessly connected devices in a single area makes it easier for hackers to spread malware and viruses among the devices quicker than ever. In one study, hackers were able to spread a virus through devices even at a distance of 229 feet. Lights, some might argue aren't a big deal, but causing a light to strobe could trigger epileptic seizures, or just make people very uncomfortable.
The color and brightness of the Philips Hue smart light bulb can be controlled from a computer or a smartphone. The researchers showed that by compromising a single light bulb, it was possible to infect a large number of nearby lights within minutes. The worm program carried a malicious payload to each light — even if they were not part of 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.