With great power, comes great responsibility. Some important words to live by in this highly technological century.

Companies need to understand that the easier they are making people’s lives, the more privacy risk they are putting them at. Forget the internet and computers, now the hackers could breach your privacy through smart bulbs.

Hacking through bulbs?!

Don’t laugh. This sounds surprising, but unfortunately, it is true. The so called smart lamps can be taken advantage of by attackers to steal users’ data – photos, videos, files, preferences and even compromise other IoT devices in use. This is possible when these smart electronics are connected to each other without using a smart home hub. Hackers could send malicious commands via the infrared spectrum and operate the whole attack through the user’s home network without getting detected.

But how is that even..?

“Think of the bulb as another computer. These bulbs are now poised to become a much more attractive target for exploitation even though they have very simple chips,” said Murtuza Jadliwala, one of the researchers behind this study. They use the invisible wave spectrum (which is the infrared waves) that could easily be controlled by a bad actor to create a gateway and access information. Talk about being smart, huh?

Give me the technical deets!

There is a feature called multimedia-visualization that is used by today’s smart lights which enables them to change their colors based on the audio or video playing in the home environment. Now of course this is supercool for users when it comes to creating ambience and improving relaxation but it sucks when it comes to privacy and security. This infrared sensing technology could be used to channelise and exfiltrate user’s private data from his/her private device like a mobile phone or a computer.

For instance, any malicious application in your phone could be using the infrared channel to send your private data to the attacker. Moreover, you wouldn’t even be aware of the hack because it will be carried out via the home network and not the internet. As of now, the researchers have found that someone could misuse this whole thing if they are within 50 metres of the user.

Oh dang! Should I throw out my bulbs, then?

No, but make sure that you purchase smart lights that use a smart home hub to create a centrally controlled network for all the smart devices in your home or office rather than connecting them over WiFi.

And as a security measure, electronics brands need to make sure that an authentication is required to control the smart bulbs.

Read more about this light-shedding news here. Tell us what you think about this in the comments. And share this with anyone who was thinking about bringing these ‘smart’ bulbs in their home.

Stay tuned, stay safe.


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