Popular wireless smart-light bulbs have security holes

October 31, 2019 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Popular smart-light bulbs have security holes
A review conducted by researchers at UTSA have found security holes in popular smart-light bulbs.

"Your smart bulb could come equipped with infrared capabilities, and most users don't know that the invisible wave spectrum can be controlled. You can misuse those lights," said Murtuza Jadliwala, professor and director of the Security, Privacy, Trust and Ethics in Computing Research Lab in UTSA's Department of Computer Science. "Any data can be stolen: texts or images. Anything that is stored in a computer."

Some smart bulbs connect to a home network without needing a smart home hub, a centralized hardware or software device where other internet of things products communicate with each other. Smart home hubs, which connect either locally or to the cloud, are useful for IoT devices that use the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols or Bluetooth, rather than Wi-Fi.

If these same bulbs are also infrared-enabled, hackers can send commands via the infrared invisible light emanated from the bulbs to either steal data or spoof other connected IoT devices on the home network. The owner might not know about the hack because the hacking commands are communicated within the owner's home Wi-Fi network, without using the internet.


UTSA researchers review the security gaps on smart bulbs exposing consumers to hacks. Image courtesy of UTSA.


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