Two New Experiments Show How Vulnerable Smart Home Devices Are to Hacking

The Atlantic: The Inevitability of Being Hacked

Last week, a massive chain of hacked computers simultaneously dropped what they were doing and blasted terabytes of junk data to a set of key servers, temporarily shutting down access to popular sites in the eastern U.S. and beyond. Unlike previous attacks, many of these compromised computers weren’t sitting on someone’s desk, or tucked away in a laptop case — they were instead the cheap processors soldered into web-connected devices, from security cameras to video recorders. A DVR could have helped bring down Twitter.

Great, I thought as I read the coverage last week. My DVR helped bring down Twitter. (Probably not, at least this time — the targeted products were older than what you’d find in most American homes, and less protected.) But the internet is huge! There are around a couple billion public IPv4 addresses out there; any one of those might have a server, a desktop computer, or a toaster plugged in at the other end. Even if the manufacturer of my gadget gave it a dumb and easily guessed password, wouldn’t it be safe in this sea of anonymity? How would the hackers find me?

The Verge: Watch a Drone Hack a Room Full of Smart Lightbulbs From Outside the Window

The Internet of Things is turning into a security nightmare. Following that massive DDoS attack that used an IoT-botnet to interrupt major swaths of the internet a few weeks ago, The New York Times outlines a threat detailed in a new report pleasantly titled “IoT Goes Nuclear.” In it, researchers detail a scenario whereby connected devices are infected by a worm that sets off a chain reaction, theoretically creating a doomsday-like scenario for smart cities containing millions of densely interconnected devices.

The team demonstrated the threat by infecting a Hue lamp with a virus that then spread by jumping from one lamp to its neighbors, whether the lights were on the same private network or not. Worse yet, the researchers didn’t need physical access to the lights — they were infected wirelessly by a drone or car while still a few hundred feet away. In the video above you can see the lights being hacked to signal SOS repeatedly in Morse Code. As the drone draws closer you can see more lights starting to blink as the worm spreads across devices.

ThinkProgress: Solar Companies Are Suing Over Florida’s Deceptive Solar Initiative

After months of arguing  —  both in court and to the public  —  that Amendment 1 is deliberating misleading, two pro-solar groups in Florida are filing to have the state Supreme Court reconsider the amendment’s language and to have the Secretary of State embargo the results of the vote until the court makes a decision, representatives said Wednesday.

According to a lawyer for the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) and Floridians for Solar Choice, a consumer group, the move comes after “proof of the deception and potential misconduct” was revealed last month.

Bloomberg: Big Oil Burned Less Cash. Yay?

Well, Big Oil's third-quarter earnings season wasn't completely terrible — which makes it a relative success.All five of the largest Western oil majors — Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, and Total SA — beat earnings estimates.

That hasn't happened for the entire group since the first quarter of 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. What really matters, though, is cash. And here, there were also signs of real progress being made — along with a realization that there is still a ways to go.

New York Times: Batteries That Make Use of Solar Power, Even in the Dark

Storing electricity for a time when it is needed has always been one of the biggest challenges for renewable power, but Steve Holliday, former chief executive of National Grid, the British network operator, said at a recent event that batteries could play an expanding commercial role.

“Real big industrial-size battery storage is going to be available in the U.K. pretty quickly,” Mr. Holliday said at a seminar organized by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a nonprofit.

Mr. Beatty, 55, is a former banker who made his first foray into renewable energy in part to head off a plan to put up wind turbines, which he said he considered an eyesore, near his 350-acre property, about 65 miles north of London. With about a dozen friends and family members, including James Basden, an energy consultant, he spent £6.5 million to build the solar farm in 2014. The solar panels, which generate about £650,000 in revenue a year, are theoretically capable of powering as many as 2,000 homes, Mr. Beatty said.

from GTM Solar https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/two-new-experiments-show-how-vulnerable-smart-home-devices-are-to-hacking

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