Smart Home?... Smart Spies For sure.

Serious flaws & vulnerabilities in smart home devices.

How Safe Is Your Home?

I am sure in present time Benjamin Franklin would maybe have said something like this, “Those who would give up essential security, to purchase temporary convenience, will have neither safety nor convenience.” [paraphrasing a famous quote]

In the world of “smart” home devices, how smart are they?

Portland, Oregon

May 2018

A woman, “Danielle” in Portland Oregon finds out in an alarming fashion! During a conversation with her husband involving home improvement projects they were interrupted by an urgent phone call from her husband’s employee.

“Unplug your Alexa device right now, you’re being hacked!” exclaimed the employee. At first her husband didn’t believe the employee, but after the employee told them in detail what they had just been talking about… it became quite clear that their Alexa device had recorded their conversation and randomly emailed a recording to the employee.

After many attempts and conversations with Amazon the couple decide to remove all devices and seek a refund. Amazon assured them that they, “takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”.

Lasers Prove Effective Hacking Tools

Nov. 2019

Researchers discover a flaw in design in all smart home devices that leave them open to a hack from a common laser pointer device.

Creating an electrical signal with a laser, mimicking a voice command allowed them to perform actions like opening doors, making online purchases, turning lights on/off and more. This all can be done from 100 meters [328 feet] from the device.

This basic vulnerability cannot be eradicated without a change in the design of the microphone - researchers said. A Google spokesperson said: “We are closely reviewing this research paper. Protecting our users is paramount, and we're always looking at ways to improve the security of our devices.”. Amazon added, “Customer trust is our top priority and we take customer security and the security of our products seriously. We are reviewing this research and continue to engage with the authors to understand more about their work.”

The research was funded by the Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It’s feasible then that such attacks could be a feature of powerful surveillance tools in the future.

Source - Forbes article

The Conclusion

When even the FBI warns you that smart devices are tools, capable of spying on you it’s time to take the warning to heart and take actions to secure your privacy.

Personally, I would not have a single “smart” device in my home except the all powerful - life controlling smart phone. That said, there are measures you can take to make your spying less intrusive into you life. The Guardian offers a great read and guide to securing the spying tools and giving a little bit more control back to the user.

We are continually moving into an era where our rights are slowly being stripped from us. In many cases we are the ones, willingly stripping them in the name of convenience. Eventually we will become like China with cameras everywhere and being controlled by our social credit score.

Until that time comes, every freedom loving citizen should continue to fight, never surrender your right to privacy, personal property & liberty!