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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Security Risks from Remote-Controlled Smart Devices

We're starting to see a proliferation of smart devices that can be controlled from your phone. The security risk is, of course, that anyone can control them from their phones. Like this Japanese smart toilet:
The toilet, manufactured by Japanese firm Lixil, is controlled via an Android app called My Satis.
But a hardware flaw means any phone with the app could activate any of the toilets, researchers say.
The toilet uses bluetooth to receive instructions via the app, but the Pin code for every model is hardwired to be four zeros (0000), meaning that it cannot be reset and can be activated by any phone with the My Satis app, a report by Trustwave's Spiderlabs information security experts reveals.
This particular attack requires Bluetooth connectivity and doesn't work over the Internet, but many other similar attacks will. And because these devices send to have their code in firmware, a lot of them won't be patchable. My guess is that the toilet's manufacturer will ignore it.
On the other end of your home, a smart TV protocol is vulnerable to attack:
The attack uses the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) standard that is widely supported in smart television sets sold in Europe.
The HbbTV system was designed to help broadcasters exploit the internet connection of a smart TV to add extra information to programmes or so advertisers can do a better job of targeting viewers.
But Yossef Oren and Angelos Keromytis, from the Network Security Lab, at Columbia University, have found a way to hijack HbbTV using a cheap antenna and carefully crafted broadcast messages.
The attacker could impersonate the user to the TV provider, websites, and so on. This attack also doesn't use the Internet, but instead a nearby antenna. And in this case, we know that the manufacturers are going to ignore it:
Mr Oren said the standards body that oversaw HbbTV had been told about the security loophole. However, he added, the body did not think the threat from the attack was serious enough to require a re-write of the technology's security.

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