Your House Could Spy On You

Over time, more and more home appliances are being created that are both “smart” and Web-enabled.  There are a number of reasons why it might make sense to have appliances connected to the Internet.

If you’re out of town and you turned your thermostat down before you left in order to save money on heat, you can use a Web-enabled thermostat to turn it back on a few hours before you return home so that your house will be comfortable when you arrive.

lg vacuum cleanerSimilarly, if you have a Web-enabled home vacuum robot, you could ask it to clean up the kitchen before you come home from work should you discover that you’re having unexpected dinner guests.

Many home appliances are now Web-enabled and a few have cameras and some are even able to interconnect with other devices.  This is all fine, until something goes wrong.

Recently an Israeli firm discovered a vulnerability in the Web app for Web-enabled appliances made by LG, and that vulnerability could allow a hacker to control your appliances.  They could also use them to engage in malicious acts.

They could even use those appliances to spy on you.  Some appliances, such as LG’s robot vacuum, have a built in camera.  Hackers could use that to spy on you or to case your home as preparation for a robbery.

lg dishwasherThe options are pretty much unlimited, and it all has to do with a vulnerability on the server end of LG’s apps.  Users create accounts at the LG Website and can then control their applications by use of those accounts.  It was discovered that spoofing the email addresses of legitimate users and tying those accounts to newly created accounts was possible due to some issues with the login process.

This matter has been resolved, and it’s easily fixed by updating the firmware in your devices.  This could take a while, depending on which of LG’s many Web-enabled devices you own.  The company makes dishwashers, washing machines, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners and even air conditioners.

Granted, your air conditioner is unlikely to spy on you, but when hackers find vulnerabilities in such software, they’ll look for places where they can exploit them for financial gain.  While hacking your air conditioner may not let them spy on you, there might be a way to hack it in such a way that can hurt you in a way that you’ll care about.

This also demonstrates that we must take care when buying any Web-enabled item.  The Internet offers lots of useful information and ways to make our lives better, but you always have to be careful.  There are lots of ways for nefarious people to take advantage of the poorly informed, and as time goes on and we become more attached to Web-enabled devices, such hacks are likely to be more common.

It’s always a good idea to make sure that your software is up to date on any device that you can connect to the Internet.  That won’t prevent all possible hacking attacks, but it will help.

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