Your coffeemaker been hacked [yet]?

With the name Smarter, you might expect a network-connected kitchen appliance maker to be, well, smarter than companies selling conventional appliances. But in the case of the Smarter’s Internet-of-things coffee maker, you’d be wrong…

Security problems with Smarter products first came to light in 2015, when researchers at London-based security firm Pen Test partners found that they could recover a Wi-Fi encryption key used in the first version of the Smarter iKettle. The same researchers found that version 2 of the iKettle and the then-current version of the Smarter coffee maker had additional problems, including no firmware signing and no trusted enclave inside the ESP8266, the chipset that formed the brains of the devices. The result: the researchers showed a hacker could probably replace the factory firmware with a malicious one. The researcher EvilSocket also performed a complete reverse engineering of the device protocol, allowing reomote control of the device.

As a thought experiment, Martin Hron, a researcher at security company Avast, reverse engineered one of the older coffee makers to see what kinds of hacks he could do with it. After just a week of effort, the unqualified answer was: quite a lot. Specifically, he could trigger the coffee maker to turn on the burner, dispense water, spin the bean grinder, and display a ransom message, all while beeping repeatedly. Oh, and by the way, the only way to stop the chaos was to unplug the power cord…

The cautionary tale moves on and offers humor, corrective suggestions…and not a boatload of hope for up-to-date standards. Generally, firmware updates stop in a few years…even though beaucoup electronic products work for many more. As they should.

Tesla uses the cars they sell…like computers

Volkswagen CEO Hebert Diess has admitted that Tesla has a significant lead when it comes to software and its use in its self-driving program, according to leaked internal communications.

Tesla pioneered over-the-air software updates in the auto industry.

At first, it was touted more as a smartphone-like feature that enables your car to have a better user experience over time.

However, Tesla’s use of over-the-air software updates has evolved, and it is also now at the center of the automaker’s effort to achieve a fully self-driving system.

But what is of greater concern for VW’s CEO is Tesla’s use of software in its Autopilot program:

“What worries me the most is the capabilities in the assistance systems. 500,000 Teslas function as a neural network that continuously collects data and provides the customer a new driving experience every 14 days with improved properties. No other automobile manufacturer can do that today.”

No shit, Sherlock. At least, Hebert Diess recognizes the qualitative change wrought by Elon Musk. He’s brought motor vehicle production into the realm of digital management. He built-in a feedback loop providing information using conduits every competitor should be using to update their products. And using them to provide frequent, near-live data…if not live. Built into the vehicle operating system.

iOS 11 drops tomorrow, the 19th


Click to enlarge

Statement at Apple website: iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to amazing possibilities for augmented reality in games and apps. With iOS 11, iPhone and iPad are the most powerful, personal, and intelligent devices they’ve ever been.

Here in MDT, typically will drop at 11AM. The tvOS update should be rolling out, as well…though I’m still waiting for my fave reseller to get the 4K Gen 5 Apple TV.