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Why Light Bulbs May Be the Next Hacker Target

Artist's representation of a smart light bulb.

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have concluded that the Internet of Things could prove highly vulnerable to cyberattackers.


The Internet of Things (IoT) could prove highly vulnerable to cyberattackers, according to a new study from researchers at Canada's Dalhousie University and Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science.

By focusing on the potential for hackers to hijack a smart Philips light bulb by exploiting a wireless flaw, the researchers say malware could spread across thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Internet-linked devices in close proximity, by infecting a single device.

The team found the ZigBee wireless radio standard can be used to generate a malware-proliferating computer worm that targets IoT devices. They say the recent attack against the company demonstrated hackers have the means to commandeer a range of Internet-connected devices and use them to orchestrate similar attacks, steal information, transmit spam, or execute other malicious activities.

"Even the best Internet defense technologies would not stop such an attack," warns cryptographer and study co-author Adi Shamir.

The researchers say they used readily available and relatively inexpensive equipment to hack the Philips light bulb, which again demonstrates "how difficult it is to get security right even for a large company that uses standard cryptographic techniques to protect a major product."

From The New York Times 
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