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Smart? Don't ThinQ so! Hacked robo-vacuum could spy on your home

Security researchers dismantle LG's IoT appliance range

LG SmartThinQ smart home devices were totally hackable prior to a recent security update, according to new research.

The so-called HomeHack vulnerabilities in LG's SmartThinkQ mobile app and cloud application created a means for hackers to remotely log into the SmartThinQ cloud application and take over the user's LG account, Check Point security boffins said.

Once in control of an account, any LG device or appliance associated with that account could be controlled by the attacker – including a robot vacuum cleaner, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, and air conditioners. Devices could be switched on and off, settings changed and more.

IoT hackers might be able to gain control of the LG Hom-Bot vacuum cleaner's video camera. The technology streams live video to an associated LG SmartThinQ smartphone app as part of its HomeGuard Security feature. Hacking the system therefore creates a spying risk (as demonstrated below).

Youtube Video

The vulnerabilities in the SmartThinQ mobile app allowed researchers to create a fake LG account before using this to take over a user's legitimate LG account, and in turn gain remote control of the user's smart LG appliances.  Check Point disclosed the vulnerability on July 31. LG fixed the reported issues at the end of September.

Koonseok Lee, manager of smart development team at LG Electronics, said: "In August, LG Electronics teamed with Check Point Software Technologies to run an advanced rooting process designed to detect security issues and immediately began updating patch programs.  Effective September 29 the security system has been running the updated 1.9.20 version smoothly and issue-free. LG Electronics plans to continue strengthening its software security systems as well as work with cyber-security solution providers like Check Point to provide safer and more convenient appliances."

Users of the LG SmartThinQ mobile app and appliances should ensure they have updated to the latest software versions from the LG website. To address the specific vulnerability identified by Check Point, users should update their LG SmartThinQ app to the latest version (1.9.23), either via Google play store, Apple's App Store or via LG SmartThinQ app settings.

LG's range of smart appliances and safety solutions allow users to monitor and maintain their homes from a smartphone. Sales of the Hom-Bot robotic vacuum cleaner alone exceeded 400,000 in the first half of 2016.  In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were shipped worldwide, a 64 per cent increase on the year before. ®

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