Friday, June 13, 2014

Hackers Target Home Devices

Come home to a hot iron and smoldering clothes this afternoon? Soon, it may not be a sign of forgetfulness, but rather evidence that you’ve been hacked.  In coming years, your smartphone will be able to lock your house, turn on the air conditioning, check whether the milk is out of date, or even heat up your iron. Great news, except that all that convenience could also let criminals open your doors, spy on your family or drive your connected car to their lair.
As these technologies become more sophisticated, it opens up a broader spectrum of threats. A world of connected devices makes it possible for bad guys to have a permanent entry into ones household. By 2020, some 26 billion such devices may be connected to the Internet, up from 3 billion today, researcher Gartner Inc.  estimates. That’s almost four times the number of smartphones, tablets and PCs that will be in use.
The vision is to connect almost everything -- from cars to fridges, lamps, even toilets. Forget to flush? There’s an app for that. Problem is, data security isn’t typically a big focus for toilet, refrigerator or baby monitor manufacturers. Security lapses on such devices could allow bad guys to disrupt home life, gather valuable personal data, or even use stolen information to extort money from victims, Ollmann said.
Hijacked Robotoilet
Trustwave, a Chicago company that helps corporate clients fight cybercrime, hijacked a Bluetooth connection that controls toilets made by Japan’s Lixil Group. That could allow hackers to open or close the lid and even squirt a stream of water at the user’s behind, Trustwave said. Lixil said it’s difficult to commandeer its toilets as hackers would need to connect their smartphone to the loo using a special remote that comes with the device, making abuse “a very rare case.”
Even some tech companies have created devices lacking sufficient protection. The Ollmann Group broke into a home automation system from Belkin International Inc., a company that makes mobile phone accessories and Wi-Fi routers. Belkin’s WeMo box fits over electrical outlets to control lamps, fans, coffee makers and other appliances via a smartphone app.
Interactive Countertop
LG Electronics Inc. has Smart ThinQ technology that lets smartphone users monitor and diagnose problems in washers, refrigerators and ovens. The applications requires buyers to create a username and password. LG declined to comment. Sweden’s Electrolux SA is developing an interactive countertop, a white surface with hidden elements for cooking food and charging devices such as mobile phones without plugging them in. The countertop even comes with a virtual chef to walk you through recipes.
Though not many criminal hackers are targeting such devices today, that will change once there’s a reliable way to make money from exploiting them, said Sebastian Zimmerman, a member of the Chaos Computer Club, a German hacker collective campaigning to raise awareness of security and privacy.
Based on an article by By Amy Thomson Jun 10, 2014