Smart Homes Dumb on Security

By tumblers lock and key - October 4th, 2017 in Security

Smart home automation is a trending topic. More and more every day, we learn about a new smart home gadget that will ease tasks around the house or are just plain cool to use. Automation turns lights on automatically or controlls devices at home while homeowners step out. However, a rise in security concerns are changing the automation market.

What if you found yourself at home and your lights suddenly flickered on and off without your consent? Researchers at the IT Security Infrastructures group, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) tried to put a stop to this terrifying security oversight. They found security issues with smart lights made by IKEA, GE, Osram, and Phillips.

How Researchers Followed Lights and Found Flaws

Philipp Morgner and Zinaida Benenson’s staff connected lighting systems, all belonging to various manufacturers, and made them flash for numerous hours only using one radio command sent from a distance. Also, they adjusted the bulbs using radio commands so that whoever uses them isn’t able to control them. It’s these kinds of security failures that should give homeowners pause.

Weak Security Features

FAU researchers also found security flaws in ZigBee, a wireless technology used to control smart home products. ZigBee 3.0 includes a touchlink commissioning procedure that can add new devices to your existing smart home system. Also, it can set up a new network altogether. However, the expert researchers showed how it makes your home system vulnerable to attack. If this feature is unsafe, perhaps other ZigBee applications will become inadequate in the future, like door locks and alarm systems.

Manufacturers Make Updates to Mitigate Future Security Risks

After the team recommended disabling touchlink commissioning for ZigBee 3.0, some manufacturers made updates that reduced security risks going forward. According to the IT Security Infrastructures group, their findings show that many manufacturers prioritize functionality and compatibility over security. Therefore, FAU focused their efforts on influencing more manufacturers to concentrate on security improvements.

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Source: https://phys.org/news/2017-09-flaws-smart-home-products.html#jCp

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