Feb 6, 2020 - Technology

The hackable lightbulb

Screenshot from Check Point video

If you connect your lightbulb to the internet, the internet could connect back, according to a new report from Check Point detailing a security flaw in Philips Hue Smart Bulbs.

How it works: This isn't really about cyber criminals gaslighting you by dimming your lights — but that's exactly how this hack starts.

  • Erratic behavior by the bulb prompts the owner to reboot the network, giving hackers a chance to slip some malware into the system.
  • They gain entrance to your home network via an entry point you didn't even know existed.

Details: An attacker with a laptop and an antenna within 328 feet of your smart bulb could execute this attack, according to Check Point.

  • The researchers said the exploit depends on a flaw in the Zigbee protocol, a basic building block of "internet of things" (IoT) products that's widely used by many so-called smart home devices.
  • Philips has issued a patch for owners of the affected products.

What's next: The IoT industry remains a security disaster waiting to happen, according to many experts. Reports like this keep the industry on its toes, but it still has a long way to go.

Go deeper: A truly smart home needs to be more than just connected

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The next decade of smart city growth

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Transportation and energy upgrades are expected to be the big drivers of smart city spending over the next decade.

Why it matters: Global spending on smart city projects will reach nearly $124 billion this year, an 18% increase over 2019, according to IDC, a market research firm.

Apple's closed security model is great until it isn't

Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Last week's report that Jeff Bezos' iPhone was allegedly hacked via a WhatsApp message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discomfited a lot of Apple customers who long believed that one of the features of their high-priced phones was invulnerability.

The big picture: The flaw in this case was in WhatsApp, not the iPhone itself. But the larger lesson is that in a networked world full of incentives for digital mischief, there's no such thing as perfect security — only varying degrees of relative risk.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020

Millennials' housing anxieties

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A majority of millennials feel behind financially and are not optimistic about their financial future, according to a new survey from Bank of America.

Why it matters: Millennials are nearly twice as likely as baby boomers to worry often about their finances. Homeownership tops the list of anxieties — 20% say not being able to afford a home is the top financial stressor.