Smart Lights And Hacking

Can smart lights be hacked? This is a question that can make you sceptical while you consider investing in smart lights for your home. 

But, if you are not inclined to read the whole thing, the short and not-so-sweet answer for you is, yes. Hackers can hack smart lights, and through them, steal your data. But, the good thing is, there are ways you can opt to dodge those attacks

In this article, we are going to get into the details of how hackers can hack your smart lights, and what you can do to prevent that.

Uses of Smart Lights

Smart lights can be connected to your home’s WiFi or network, allowing you to control them using your smartphone or virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home. 

Not only that, if your smart lights have LEDs, you can even change the colour theme to suit your mood. For instance, you could order Alexa to change the colour theme to romantic; or you can make your surroundings suitable for a family dinner. So, they are pretty cool and offer a customizable experience. 

Can Smart Lights Be Hacked?

The real question is, can smart lights be hacked? Well, yes, but you don’t have to worry about that. You see, hackers need a loophole in technology to exploit it to your disadvantage. You can make sure your devices and information are secure by following a few simple guidelines. 

How Can Hackers Hack Your Smart Lights?

It’s relatively less believable that a simple device like a smart light can be hacked and even used for spying. But, it’s true. Research has revealed that your smart lights can be hacked, leading to a data breach, home network hacking, or ransomware plantation. 

So, how do hackers hack smart lights? While hacking is a pretty complicated topic, the aspect that’s susceptible to hacking in light bulbs is their infrared light. Hackers can exploit your infrared-enabled bulbs to hack into your connected devices by sending commands via the invisible infrared light spectrum. 

Your smart bulb comes infrared enabled and that’s what most of us don’t know. The outsider can steal any data, be it texts, images, videos, or anything that can be stored on a computer by developing a communication channel using these infrared rays. 

First, the hacker gets the control of your bulbs’ colour and brightness; you will take it as a glitch. You won’t be able to control the bulb from your smartphone app, and you will have to delete it from the app in order to reset it. 

When the user rediscovers the bulb using the control bridge, the bulb has already been breached. The user then adds the bulb back to their network. The hacker can then install malware using the control bridge. The malware can travel to other systems and affects them. 

Is a Smart Light Bulb a Security Risk?

As technology advanced, our lifestyles have evolved too. Digitization has made our lives convenient. We have more data, so we need good security. But, with security getting strong, the security breaches are also getting skilful. 

Unfortunately, smart light bulbs can definitely be a cybersecurity risk if you let them. Although they have a pretty simple chip, smart bulbs can act as a loophole for your home devices’ security. 

Zigbee, an open wireless communication standard used in several home devices can get vulnerable to attacks. 

In this era of information warfare, we simply can’t afford to let anyone get control of our information and assets. 

From How Much Distance Can Smart Bulbs be Hacked?

While it’s difficult to give an exact number in terms of the distance required to hack the smart lights, researchers gave an estimate of 50m initially. 

But, recently, checkpoint software Ltd has identified a new hack in which the hacker can be as far as 100m to be able to hack into your devices using the smart bulbs. And, he/she will only need an antenna and a laptop to do so. 

What Can You Do to Protect Your Devices?

One of the first things to do in order to make an attack difficult is patching your devices. Make sure your devices are automatically updated when a newer version of firmware is released. 

You should also be on a lookout for any out of the ordinary behaviour of your devices. A recent breach in a Philips bulb by a research team led to the creation of a patched firmware version. The firmware gets automatically updated. 

Researchers also advise the users to get the smart bulbs that use a smart home hub, where the connected devices can communicate with each other via the internet directly, rather than on a WiFi network. This makes the task of the hacker difficult. 

Another important thing you should consider is building an authentication protocol so that the owner can be verified. This is similar to when a smartphone asks you to access your microphone when you want to use it. 

In addition, it’s imperative that you separate your IoT devices from other machines in order to prevent the possible spread of the malware. 

Final Thoughts

Smart lights have attractive features. You can control their brightness, colour, and theme with your phone using an app or with voice commands using Alexa and Google Home. With the growth in IoT and the convenience they offer, more and more people are shifting to IoT devices. 

However, smart light bulbs are found to be vulnerable to hacking. Although smart lights have a small chip, they can be hacked. Hackers can breach into your devices using the infrared invisible spectrum of your smart bulbs and place malware. 

But, that doesn’t mean you have no choice. You can in fact take some easy precautions to prevent hackers from stealing your data or intruding. 

Continuously update the firmware, look-out for any abnormal behaviour of devices, make sure the devices are directly connected and not via WiFi, build an authentication protocol, and isolate your devices to prevent the spread of the malware. 


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