Your router won’t protect you when smartphones attack smart homes – Computerworld

If you watched the season premiere of Mr. Robot, then you saw the hellish havoc fsociety visited upon the smart home of E Corp’s general counsel. She had no control over the internet-connected alarm system, lights, thermostat, stereo, TV or even the temperature of water during a shower.

Most folks don’t have an entire smart home, yet they may have some smart devices. If you had maybe a half-dozen or more Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets and they all started going off, and you couldn’t regain control, you’d likely realize your “smart” house was being hacked, but maybe not understand how.

While we’ve heard endlessly about the lack of good security being built into IoT devices, researchers wanted to show “real, not hypothetical” attacks which would prove that home routers and firewalls do not protect “smart” devices from internet attacks. The research paper “Smartphones attacking smart homes” was presented at the ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks (WiSec 2016).

First, the researchers explained why some people believe a router keeps IoT devices “safe” from outside attackers. From outside your home network, an attacker can’t see your smart lightbulbs, webcams, motion detectors, power switches, photo frames, etc. But if a hacker knew you had them and an external attacker wanted to hack your Phillips Hue lightbulb or Belkin WeMo power-switch, the packets sent would go to the home gateway; the gateway would not know which of the IoT devices, each with their own private IP address, to send the packets, so the unsolicited traffic would be dropped.

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