Have your smart home devices been acting weird?
A few weeks ago my family was all together watching a movie on the big screen. My kids used to get a kick out of me asking Alexa to “dim the lights for a movie” and watch as the Philips Hue light bulbs dimmed. This time though, in the middle of the movie one of the lights turned back on all by itself. “That’s odd,” I said. A few days later it did it again and then turned itself back on after a few minutes. I opened the app and it would not connect to the Hue Bridge that controls the lights and a few other smart home devices.
So I reset the Hub by pressing the big button. Still, nothing.
Apparently this was a problem, not just for me, but for all Hue light bulbs. I read many reports of the popular brand of smart lights with minds of their own. Wednesday we found out it was a problem that could have been an even greater disruption than flipping on the switch.
According to a report from Check Point, a software security firm, the lights contained a vulnerability that would allow for a hacker to not only turn them off and on but could potentially allow someone to install malware on my computer and network using the lights as a gateway into my home.
The homeowner would, as I did, reset the hub which would give the hacker access to the network when I re-connected the affected bulbs.
Check Point released a video showing their research and how a hacker could do it.
The company held off on announcing the vulnerability to consumers but informed Signify, the company behind Philips Hue a couple of weeks ago. The company updated the software which it said fixed the problem and patched the vulnerability. The update should have installed automatically on all those Hue hubs. Maybe that’s why my lights were unresponsive.
Check Point didn’t mention any other smart home devices in the report but did say the vulnerability affected the Zigbee wireless protocol. There’s a very long list of devices that connect to hubs using Zigbee.
So even though no other devices were mentioned, you can bet it’s a good idea to check to make sure any smart home devices in your home are up to date on security patches. You can generally find out by opening the app that controls the device.
Also, if you haven’t done it already, it’s a good idea to run an anti-malware program on any computers connected to your home network.