Feeds

Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS

So shall you languish in darkness - or under disco-style strobes - FOREVER

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Those convinced that the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) will become a hackers' playground were given more grist for their mill with news on Friday that security researchers have discovered a weakness in Wi-Fi/mesh networked lightbulbs.

Researchers at Context Information Security discovered that LED light bulbs from manufacturer LIFX - which are designed to be controlled from a smartphone - have security weaknesses. By gaining access to the master bulb, Context was able to control all connected lightbulbs and expose user network configurations.

Context worked with LIFX to develop a patch for the security bug before releasing a fix in the form of a firmware update. Simon Walker from LIFX stated: “Prior to the patch, no one other than Context had exposed this vulnerability, most likely due to the complexity of the equipment and reverse engineering required.”

Details of the vulnerability and the subsequent fix can in Context's advisory (summarised below)

The LIFX bulb was launched in September 2012 with crowd funding through the Kickstarter website. The architecture, based on the 802.15.4 6LoWPAN wireless mesh network, requires only one bulb to be connected to the Wi-Fi at a time. Context researchers found that they were able to monitor packets on the mesh network and identify the specific packets which shared the encrypted network configuration among the bulbs.

The detailed steps of gaining access to the device involved accessing the firmware by physically interrogating the device’s embedded microcontrollers to identify and understand the encryption mechanism in use. Armed with knowledge of the encryption algorithm, key, initialisation vector and an understanding of the mesh network protocol, Context was able to inject packets into the mesh network, capture and decrypt the network configurations, all without any prior authentication or alerting of its presence.

The fix, developed with the help of Context, is included in the new firmware and now encrypts all 6LoWPAN traffic, using an encryption key derived from the Wi-Fi credentials. It also includes functionality for secure ‘on-boarding’ of new bulbs on to the network.

Context's find is part of its ongoing research into the security of the Internet of Things (IoT) - which includes parking meters, internet-enabled fridges and much more besides. Many of these components are being put together with little thought for basic security precautions, according to Context.

“It is clear that in the dash to get onto the IoT bandwagon, security is not being prioritised as highly as it should be in many connected devices,” said Michael Jordon, research director at Context. “We have also found vulnerabilities in other internet connected devices from home storage systems and printers to baby monitors and children’s toys." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.