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Photo: John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A vulnerability in a Belkin-made smart electric plug (which can connect appliances to WiFi) could allow hackers to access an entire local network, according to McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team.

The big picture: The Internet of Things can make some tasks more convenient — like turning on and off the lights without getting out of bed, or controlling kitchen appliances remotely. But the convenience can come at a price.

The details:

  • The product is Belkin's Wemo Insight Smart Plug.
  • The vulnerability allows attackers to execute remote code.
  • McAfee alerted Belkin of the vulnerability in May in compliance with its responsible disclosure policy.

Impact: If the plug is hacked and networked with other devices, hackers can break the network router's security and "create a backdoor channel for an attacker to connect remotely, unnoticed on the network," Doug McKee, a senior security researcher at McAfee, explained.

  • Example: If hackers targeted a Smart TV on the network, for instance, they could turn that TV on and off, and also install or uninstall applications or access online content, per McKee.

Update: A Wemo spokesperson told Axios the company has been working with McAfee to "address the exploit and plan to release firmware in the coming month."

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
14 mins ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

21 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Wall Street bets it all on a vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It's the time of year when Wall Street shops are rolling out predictions for where they see the stock market headed in the coming year. There's one common theme: Widespread distribution of a vaccine is the reason to be bullish.

Why it matters: Analysts say vaccines will help the economy heal, corporate profits rebound and stock market continue its upward trajectory.