The Story Of The Light Bulb That Got Hacked
The world of lighting is going through a period of intense transition, with the rise of energy-efficient light bulbs that can be fit to vintage lamps.
One particularly unique evolution to the classic light bulb is the rise of the smart light, a light bulb that interconnects with the rest of a smart home to allow for greater energy efficiency, remote control, different colours and a range of personalised features.
It works by using the Internet of Things, a system of smart devices that connect to each other and can activate particular features, such as smart speakers allowing for voice control of smart lights.
For the most part, as long as these systems are carefully managed, they are safe. However, in one infamous case, a light bulb was used to hack into an entire computer network, which required the bulb to receive a software update to stop this from happening.
Thankfully, the hack was undertaken by an advocacy group that was designed to find vulnerabilities.
The hack took place on Philips Hue smart bulbs, which were in 2019 a market-leading product. The researchers at Check Point used a remote exploit in a system used to control a lot of different devices to take control of a lightbulb and install firmware onto it.
They then can alter the bulb’s colour or brightness settings remotely to make the user think the bulb has a technical issue, which means they need to reset it.
This is done by deleting and re-adding it to the control bridge, but in doing so activates code that enables malicious software to be run on the bridge itself.
This means that the entire lighting system at this point is infected and since this system is connected to an internet router, they can add viruses not only to other smart devices but to computers and mobile phones connected to the wireless network.
Thankfully, the research was disclosed to Philips ahead of time, allowing them to develop a fix for the issue that was delivered before this information was disclosed to the public.