More convenience due to technology has led to more vulnerability of user’s privacy and safety. One such technology is IoT, the Internet of Things.
Users need to exercise caution while using smart bulbs, smart appliances, and digital assistants.
These are routes into your home WiFi network that hackers could take, that users need to practice care for.
The good news is that third-party security firms are doing ethical hacking for manufacturers and warning them about these potential security issues so they can fix the breach.
Smart bulbs can be hacked through the firmware installed on their microchips that communicate with the WiFi network. Hackers can gain access to other devices on the same network.
Do Smart Bulbs Have Firmware?
Any device that needs to be operated usually needs firmware. This is software installed on the hardware. In the case of the smart bulb, the firmware is installed on the microchip.
Well, to make it smart!
Firmware keeps the bulbs running with the latest version of the operating software. Any updates to the features of the bulb are done through it.
It allows you to connect the bulb to the WiFi network, your phone, and other voice command systems.
But it is also the firmware that is the weak link in the connection. It is the gateway that allows hackers to sneak in if not appropriately secured.
Hackers can access the microchip and install malicious firmware on it. Following that, the WiFi network can be infiltrated, and everything on it becomes compromised.
Then, hackers gain access to other devices sharing the same network. Such as your computer, smart appliances, digital assistants, or anything else
The hacker can install ransomware (holding your files ransom until you pay up). They can steal your personal information or install spyware to keep an eye on sensitive data. Worst case, they can read passwords and pin numbers to your accounts.
Yea, nothing you want for miles near your home or office network.
Can Smart Bulbs Hijack WiFi?
If you notice your bulbs changing its settings without your input, you should immediately be aware. The bulb appears to malfunction and gives an error, becoming inaccessible.
The user will then try to reset the bulb by disconnecting it from the hub or the WiFi network.
Once the user rediscovers the bulb, your network finds the now-compromised bulb. The bulb now has malicious firmware that can spread to the network, and the breach commences.
One of the easiest things to get through this hacking is the password you use for the WiFi. The password can be stored un-encrypted on the chip’s data and can be readable by the hacker.
In this way, the WiFi network and all devices connected to it can be accessed remotely.
That’s why one of the preventative measures is to keep your most personal devices such as phones and laptops, on a separate WiFi network. The easiest way to do that is to create a guest network separate from the primary network.
Another thing that one can do is to disable your WiFi from being discoverable, so it does not show up as nearby networks.
In 2016, there was a major attack, with websites becoming inaccessible to people across the US. At the root of the attack were internet connected devices that hackers had gained access to over the course of a few days.
Can Smart Light Be Hacked When Turned Off?
Now you might be having the idea of turning your bulbs off when they’re not in use to reduce the duration they can be open to being hacked.
Unfortunately, that will not help. If a smart bulb is plugged in and is currently turned off through the phone app, it is still online. The microchip inside the bulb is on standby, which means it is on and waiting for instructions to turn on.
So if you’ve turned off your bulb, it is still vulnerable to an attack unless you take proper security measures.
Your best bet is to stick to major manufacturers. They have clear privacy policies and regularly update their bulb’s firmware to keep it one step ahead.
You need to keep on top of the updates by checking the app regularly and updating the firmware.
You need to keep in mind that it is not possible to hack into your WiFi if the network is not in the hacker’s range. So 100-200 meters and beyond, and you should be safe.
On the other hand, hackers don’t need sophisticated tools either: a laptop and an antenna is all that is needed.
Can Other Devices Be Hacked Through The Smart Bulb?
Any devices connected to the same WiFi network as your smart bulbs will be equally vulnerable to being hacked.
In a typical home, a WiFi network is being used by many devices. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, digital voice assistants like Alexa, smart TVs, smartwatches, digital photo frames, gaming consoles, and so on.
These devices can contain your financial information, medical history, passwords, personal photographs, sensitive work documents, and assets documentation like title deeds. The list is endless.
All this data can be in the hands of mischievous hackers in a matter of hours.
Suppose you are using smart bulbs in your office. In that case, you need to be especially aware of strengthening your security and keeping important documents safe.
One of the most important things you can do is to have a strong password. A combination of numbers, letters, and special characters will go a long way in keeping your devices safe.
Additionally, keep different passwords for different devices to prevent putting all your eggs in one basket.
Finally, even though it is tempting, try not to write down all your passwords in one place, digitally. Or create personal encryption that only you will understand.
Data security is one of the fastest-growing industries and with good reason, as you read.
Keep your devices updated with the latest firmware, and invest in high-quality manufacturers that take security seriously.
Read up on good privacy habits to stay on top of your home’s security.
Have you ever faced a glitchy smart bulb that you had to reconfigure?
What steps have you taken to secure your smart bulbs from hackers?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.