The Dark Side of Smart Lighting: How Business and Home Networks Can Be Hacked from a Lightbulb

I am not inclined to link to usually dodgy “security firms”. In my own experience, especially dealing with BlackBerry and having extensive discussions with people who designed and made those products, it was illuminating to understand the complex “security industry”. Internet of Things (IoT) will, no doubt, escalate the potential to scale the attacks. The one described below, is usually “easy” to circumvent. Especially if there’s no layered access to the network controllers.

We still fall for the email phishing scams!

Our researchers focused on the market-leading Philips Hue smart bulbs and bridge, and found vulnerabilities (CVE-2020-6007) that enabled them to infiltrate networks using a remote exploit in the ZigBee low-power wireless protocol that is used to control a wide range of IoT devices.

With the help of the Check Point Institute for Information Security (CPIIS) in Tel Aviv University, the researchers were able to take control of a Hue lightbulb on a target network and install malicious firmware on it. From that point, they used the lightbulb as a platform to take over the bulbs’ control bridge, and attacked the target network as follows:

  • The hacker controls the bulb’s color or brightness to trick users into thinking the bulb has a glitch. The bulb appears as ‘Unreachable’ in the user’s control app, so they will try to ‘reset’ it.
  • The only way to reset the bulb is to delete it from the app, and then instruct the control bridge to re-discover the bulb.
  • The bridge discovers the compromised bulb, and the user adds it back onto their network.
  • The hacker-controlled bulb with updated firmware then uses the ZigBee protocol vulnerabilities to trigger a heap-based buffer overflow on the control bridge, by sending a large amount of data to it. This data also enables the hacker to install malware on the bridge – which is in turn connected to the target business or home network.
  • The malware connects back to the hacker and using a known exploit (such as EternalBlue), they can infiltrate the target IP network from the bridge to spread ransomware or spyware.

via The Dark Side of Smart Lighting: Check Point Research Shows How Business and Home Networks Can Be Hacked from a Lightbulb – Check Point Software