SimpliSafe burglar alarms may not be keeping you safe at all

simplisafe burglar alarm screen shot 2016 02 19 at 2 17 08 pm
A burglar alarm system has one job, and one job only — to sound an alarm when intruders venture into your property. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe has failed its singular task in rather epic proportions. According to reports, the home alarm setup is riddled with an “unfixable flaw” that renders it practically useless when it comes to actually protecting you and your valuables from an intruder who is familiar with the flaw. The security system, used in over 200,000 homes, is cheaper than many on the market, but this is a real case in point of getting what you pay for. So when it comes to safety, please don’t be cheap — or at the very least, stay away from SimpliSafe.

According to a blog post published Wednesday by IOActive researcher Andrew Zonenberg, a clever and digitally savvy thief would be able to disable a SimpliSafe alarm relatively easily, and from quite a distance away. In fact, intruders could be up to 100 feet removed from your home and still be able to deactivate your security system, creating an in for themselves. More frightening still, Zonenberg writes, “This attack is very inexpensive to implement — it requires a one-time investment of about $250 for a commodity microcontroller board, SimpliSafe keypad, and SimpliSafe base station to build the attack device.” So basically, the intruder would be able to use the security system to … disarm itself.

So is there any solution to this massive flaw? Apparently not, the security expert writes.

“Unfortunately, there is no easy workaround for the issue since the keypad happily sends unencrypted PINs out to anyone listening,” Zonenberg says. “Normally, the vendor would fix the vulnerability in a new firmware version by adding cryptography to the protocol. However, this is not an option for the affected SimpliSafe products because the microcontrollers in currently shipped hardware are one-time programmable. This means that field upgrades of existing systems are not possible; all existing keypads and base stations will need to be replaced.”

Yikes.

SimpliSafe has responded to IOActive’s criticisms by noting, “While any wireless system is susceptible to this type of attack from a sufficiently savvy and motivated intruder, our systems can be backed up with a land line or an Internet connection for no additional cost.” The company also claims that the sort of attack described by the blog “represents such a small percentage of total break-ins that the FBI does not even keep a count.”

SimpliSafe continues, “This is because the majority of break-ins are a quick forced entry and not the sophisticated type of attack that requires diligent planning as well as highly illegal and cost-prohibitive equipment. Assuming an intruder has the requisite technology, he would need to know the frequency ranges he needs to jam, and also know the layout of your home beforehand, as he would have to avoid motion detectors even in the unlikely event that he bypassed a door sensor.”

So better hope your burglars aren’t so tech savvy, or replace your alarm system.

Smart Home

The robot invasion arrived at CES 2019 — and it was cuter than we expected

Robots are finally at our doorsteps, but they’re not here to annihilate us (yet), they’re here to be our friends. CES 2019 showed us some of the cutest robots we’ve ever seen. Here are some of our favorites.
Mobile

Apple’s iPad lineup is confusing. We break it all down for you

Trying to decide which iPad is right for you is a chore. What generation is the latest iPad? Which ones have been updated and which ones are collecting dust? Check out our iPad guide and we’ll break it down.
Gaming

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Smart Home

Here’s everything Amazon and its partners announced for Alexa at CES

Amazon Alexa is rocking CES 2019. After selling millions of Echo and Dot smart speakers during the 2018 holiday season, extending its reach everywhere, Amazon has announced a ton of new partnerships with device manufacturers.
Gaming

Still have holiday cash to blow? Grab one of these awesome Xbox One games

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

LaMetric teased Sky, an upcoming app-controlled mosaic light panel, at CES 2019

Smart home startup LaMetric put a light in the eyes of guests at this year's CES 2019 with a prototype of a coming product called LaMetric Sky which uses multi-colored LED panels to form app-controlled artwork.
Smart Home

Military-grade baby monitor called Miku was a hit with parents at CES 2019

Who knew the world needed a smarter baby monitor? Apparently it's the startup Miku, which brought a new high-tech baby monitor to CES 2019 that uses A.I., machine learning, and high quality cameras to keep an eye on kids.
Smart Home

PicoBrew launches professional-grade brewing appliances, new distiller at CES

PicoBrew has been a leader in the home brewing industry for years, but at CES 2019 the company went pro with the Z Series, a new line of professional-grade brewing appliances aimed at craft breweries and restaurants.
Smart Home

IKEA’s new blinds for the smart home arrive April 1 in the U.S.

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is adding a new product called FYRTUR, which turns out to be a new set of blackout blinds for the smart home that can be controlled by remote or programmed through the company's app.
Smart Home

Haier’s shoe washer cleans sneakers without all the clanging and banging

At CES 2019, Haier brought a bunch of shoe-centric appliances, including its sneaker washer. The appliance douses shoes with water and detergent and scrubs them, and then you can put them in the accompanying dryer.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.