Your IoT Devices Can Be Hacked. Here’s What We Should Do About It.

The connected home needs a good antivirus solution

Owen Williams
Published in
5 min readJul 1, 2019
Source: ZDNet

WWhere there is the internet, there is malware. As we start to bring connected lightbulbs, washing machines, and refrigerators into our homes, that relationship could be more dangerous than ever.

Last week, the Silex malware gave us a fresh glimpse into what it means for our “internet of things” (IoT) devices to become the target of a major attack, rendering them completely useless. Silex invisibly wipes the firmware on affected devices, not unlike what we saw with the BrickerBot attack in 2017 or the Mirai botnet, which produced record-setting denial-of-service attacks as hundreds of thousands of connected webcams, routers, DVRs, and other devices became infected. While this may not seem like a huge deal to you now, the IoT market is large and growing; in the future, as we come to rely on internet-connected devices for everything from our heat to our showers, an attack like this could be ruinous to millions of households around the world.

We’re accustomed to our computers occasionally being infected with malware, which we can usually clean up with some antivirus software. But what do you do if the virus is in your smart lightbulbs? Or your smart thermostat? We don’t really think of these devices as being “computers,” but they use operating systems just like your iPhone or PC.

Right now, there aren’t many options for consumers like you and me. It’s time to ask why.

Lazy manufacturers

Silex exploits devices running the open source Linux operating system, which the majority of IoT devices use. Many IoT manufacturers don’t build their own operating systems, because doing so would be expensive and time-consuming. Linux is free. It’s a no-brainer, right?

Well, not quite. The cost of “free” means manufacturers aren’t necessarily on top of their software, because they didn’t need to develop it themselves. It’s an easy solution that facilitates seven pages of “smart lightbulbs” on Amazon, many of which are from companies you’ve never heard of. Some manufacturers may not have the experience or money to configure Linux — or any of the…



Owen Williams

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech.