Posted by: David Harley | March 17, 2016

Hotel Hackery and too much IoT

“Doctor, I keep thinking I’m a pair of curtains.” “Pull yourself together, man!”

This is a story I came to via David Bisson (for Graham Cluley’s blog) and Iain Thompson (for The Register), but the source story is from Matthew Garrett:

I stayed in a hotel with Android lightswitches and it was just as bad as you’d imagine

It describes a hotel where Android tablets were used instead of light switches. With a little extra hardware and general hackery, Garrett was able to control not only his lights, but his TV and even his curtains. But then he figured that:

…once I’d figured out the gateway, I could access the control systems on every floor and query other rooms to figure out whether the lights were on or not, which strongly implies that I could control them as well.

This may not seem all that alarming. (Though having stayed in a room in Norwich where I was unable to turn off an overhead light has alerted me to how irritating it might be to have a light under the control of someone with an overdeveloped sense of malicious humour.) But both Thompson and Bisson note some other, more disturbing possibilities.

Garrett’s approach to taking a closer look at the hotel network required more expertise, hardware and software than most of us carry around with us just in case.  But the story does provide a clear indication of how the trendy but unexpected deployment of the Internet of Things might have unintended consequences.

I’m trying not to think about the fun you could have with a network of smart toilets.

David Harley

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