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Warning: Zero-day vulnerabilities found in top-selling Amazon smart home systems

Tripwire, Inc. (opens in new tab), a leading global provider of advanced threat, security and compliance management solutions, today announced results of an extensive security assessment of three top-selling smart home automation hub products available on Amazon. The research uncovered zero-day flaws in each hub that could allow hackers to take control of smart home functionalities.

Smart home hubs are used to control lighting, heating, locks and cameras in people’s homes. In order to understand the risks associated with smart home hubs, Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposure Research Team (VERT (opens in new tab)) analysed three of the top-selling smart home systems on Amazon. Tripwire security researchers found zero-day flaws in each of the devices that, if successfully exploited, would enable hackers to:

  • Identify when people are out of their home.
  • Change alarm settings.
  • Open locks without authorisation.
  • Access local area networks.
  • Use smart hubs for DDoS purposes.

“Smart home hubs are steadily growing in popularity; however, as with many consumer technology products, functionality has trumped security,” said Craig Young, security researcher for Tripwire. “Smart home hubs enable users to have control over the connected devices in their house, but they also open new doors for criminals. The threat is relatively low for now, but it will increase as malicious actors recognise how much information can be gained by attacking these devices.”

“These devices can also be used as a gateway to inflict physical damage to a home, and ironically, they actually make homes less secure,” said Lamar Bailey, director of research and development at Tripwire. “For example, many of these devices interface with heating, ventilating and air conditioning controls. An attacker could turn off the heat on a freezing cold night while a family sleeps or worse, when the family is away for the weekend, causing pipes to freeze and burst.”

Currently, two out of the three vendors have patched these reported flaws; however, one vendor’s smart home system remains at risk. If left unpatched, some of the vulnerabilities revealed in VERT’s analysis could be exploited through malicious web pages or smartphone applications and execute commands with system level access.

“Smart home hubs that are vulnerable to remote code execution could allow attackers to migrate from a breached computer to the hub, effectively hiding themselves on the network,” said Tyler Reguly, manager of security research at Tripwire. “In addition, a cross-site request forgery could allow malicious actors to manipulate device settings every time the consumer surfs the web or opens an email. The risks are real, and the points of entry are numerous. Vendors need to acknowledge vulnerabilities and issue updates on a regular basis, and consumers need to realize the risks and apply vendor issued updates.”

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