Making smart cities may be a rather dumb idea. As it turns out, in our nascent efforts to turn everything into a connected device, we’ve also opened ourselves up to rather terrifying hacks and attacks. As per a recent report from the The New York Times recently noted, “Putting a bunch of wirelessly connected devices in one area could prove irresistible to hackers. And it could allow them to spread malicious code through the air.”
One potential airborne weapon? Drones. In a paper published Thursday, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science near Tel Aviv, Israel and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada exploited a flaw in technology frequently found in a number of smart home devices, including lights, switches, locks, thermostats, and more. In their work, the researchers looked into the Philips Hue smart light bulb and found that a drone could actually infect a single bulb with a worm that would then create a domino effect.
Alternatively, the researchers found, they could plant an infection in a building from a car located as much as 229 feet away.
The worst part of all this, experts noted, is that a bug could be built and delivered using nothing more than an “autonomous attack kit” based on “readily available equipment” that would cost just a few hundred dollars. That is to say, these aren’t hugely challenging attacks that would be difficult and expensive to execute — quite the opposite, in fact.
Of course, the researchers alerted Philips as to the vulnerability in their device, and a fix was issued in October. But all the same, with the ubiquity of other smart home devices, this patch may not be enough to solve the problem overall.
So be careful before you turn your home into a smart home — we may not yet be ready to be quite so connected.