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UTSA researchers warn: Hackers can steal your info through smart bulbs

SAN ANTONIO – Smart fridges, security cameras linked to your cell phones, even high-tech thermostats -- every day appliances are becoming more and more advanced. But with increased technology, comes the possibility of hackers.

And you might think hackers can’t get anything valuable from these every day devices, but researchers at UTSA found your personal information could be at risk.

Quite frankly, smart bulbs seem pretty cool -- they can sync with you devices -- for music purposes or simply to control them going on and off at the touch of your phone.

“Smart bulbs are connected to your home network. So effectively you can control your bulb from your home network, and that is also what the problem is,” Murtuza Jadliwala, researcher from the computer science department at UTSA, said.

Murtuza Jadliwala and Anindya Maiti have been working over the last two years to prove that smart bulbs can be easy targets for hackers.

"We can use this infrared spectrum of the bulb to exploit this data out of user’s home network. And because it’s infrared, users will not even notice any flickering,” Maiti said.

One of the crazy parts is these hackers don’t even need to be inside your home to steal your info.

“All that attacker has to do is, again, have a telescope outside and record the infrared spectrum that is coming and decode what information was received, and reconstruct your picture without using the internet at all,” Maiti said.

The researchers showed that any data can be stolen: texts or images, anything that is stored in a computer or your device.

“I just want people to know that, you know, the smallest technology, the smallest device that you connect to your home network can be potentially used for nefarious purposes,” Jadliwala said.

The researchers at UTSA say the easiest way to get in the way of hackers is keeping your curtains closed to block the infrared light, but it’s also important to look into security features when looking into the latest tech.


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