Security researchers have discovered nine separate vulnerabilities in internet-connected lightbulbs made by Osram, four of which remain unpatched. The flaws include the app storing an unencrypted copy of the user’s wifi password and allowing the attacker to turn the lightbulbs on and off without permission. There are also flaws in the ZigBee hub device which relays commands to the lightbulbs. Security Experts commented below.
Simon Moffatt, EMEA Director, Advanced Customer Engineering at ForgeRock:
“The initial wave of IoT implementations have mostly been about communications and connectivity, with the technical challenges of adding network connectivity to previously dumb, offline devices meaning that security has taken something of a back seat. However, as exciting as this concept is, the sheer volume of IoT devices has created a vast attack vector, and one that is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2020, there will be more than five times the number of IoT devices in use compared to 2015.
“As the IoT matures from a technical perspective, the potential for data loss and security breaches on a larger scale will inevitably increase, with hackers able to hijack control of devices or create bot-net style networks of compromised devices. This means that more effective policing will be required. Identity management will be a key part of the solution, because they provide a means to understand where these threats are coming from. If a connected device can be identified, it becomes that much easier to confirm that the data it is generating is genuine and can be trusted. And importantly, giving every connected object a validated identity makes it possible to automatically prevent malicious actors from accessing and controlling the devices.”
Thomas Fischer, Global Security Advocate at Digital Guardian:
“In the race to be first to market with a new IoT device, organisations are overlooking basic security principles and are putting users at risk. As demonstrated by Osram, you don’t have to look far for examples of how this could potentially occur. The time and cost pressures on competing firms to get their latest product to market first is one of the major contributors towards security flaws. These devices are often produced with simplified hardware in order to keep costs down, but this means that they lack basic principals of integrity and failover. Often the more simple and user-friendly these devices become, the less secure they are.
“Companies that attempt to add protection retrospectively will face a task of enormous magnitude, and there’s a much higher chance mistakes will be made and vulnerabilities missed. It is critical that organisations developing IoT technologies – and even those selling them – ensure these products have been developed, built and sold with security in mind.”