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Researchers discover security vulnerability in home IoT appliances

October 27, 2017 • Internet of Things, Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Researchers discover security vulnerability in home IoT appliances.

Researchers discover security vulnerability in home IoT appliances . (image source: LG)

Check Point Software Technologies has announced that its security researchers have discovered HomeHack – a vulnerability that exposed millions of users of LG SmartThinQ smart home devices to the risk of unauthorised remote control of their SmartThinkQ home appliances.

The vulnerabilities in the mobile app and cloud application enabled the Check Point research team to remotely login to SmartThinQ cloud application, take over the user’s legitimate LG account, and gain control of the vacuum cleaner and its integral video camera. Once in control of a specific user’s LG account, any LG device or appliance associated with that account could be controlled by the attacker – including the robot vacuum cleaner, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, and air conditioners.

The HomeHack vulnerability gave attackers the potential to spy on users’ home activities via the Hom-Bot robot vacuum cleaner video camera, which sends live video to the associated LG SmartThinQ app as part of its HomeGuard Security feature. Depending on the LG appliances in the owner’s home, attackers could also switch dishwashers or washing machines on or off.

“As more and more smart devices are being used in the home, hackers will shift their focus from targeting individual devices to hacking the apps that control networks of devices. This provides cybercriminals with even more opportunities to exploit software flaws, cause disruption in users’ homes and access their sensitive data,” said Oded Vanunu, head of products vulnerability research at Check Point. “Users need to be aware of the security and privacy risks when using their IoT devices and it’s essential that IoT manufactures focus on protecting smart devices against attacks by implementing robust security during the design of software and devices.”

Check Point disclosed the vulnerability to LG on July 31, 2017, following responsible disclosure guidelines. LG responded by fixing the reported issues in the SmartThinQ application at the end of September. “Thankfully, LG responsibly provided a quality fix to stop possible exploitation of the issues in its SmartThinQ app and devices,” said Oded Vanunu.

“As part of LG Electronics’ mission to enhance the lives of consumers worldwide, we are expanding our next-generation smart home appliance lineup, while also prioritising the development of safe and reliable software programs,” said Koonseok Lee Manager of Smart Development Team, Smart Solution BD, LG Electronics. “In August, LG Electronics teamed with Check Point Software Technologies to run an advanced rooting process designed to detect security issues and immediately began updating patch programs. Effective September 29th the security system has been running the updated 1.9.20 version smoothly and issue-free. LG Electronics plans to continue strengthening its software security systems as well as work with cyber-security solution providers like Check Point to provide safer and more convenient appliances.”

To protect their devices, users of the LG SmartThinQ mobile app and appliances should ensure they are updated to the latest software versions from the LG website. Check Point also advises consumers to take the following steps to secure their smart devices and home Wi-Fi networks against intrusion and the possibility of remote device takeover:

  • Update LG SmartThinQ app to the latest version (V1.9.23), you can update the app via Google play store, Apple’s App Store or via LG SmartThinQ app settings.
  • Update your Smart home physical devices with the latest version, you can do that by clicking on the smart home product under smartThinQ application Dashboard (if an update is available you will get a popup alerting you)

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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