A wake-up call to the security of our home-connected devices follows a recent incident involving the Bosch thermostat model BCC100 and explores how we can protect our devices at home before trouble comes our way.
Bitdefender Labs, a smart home cybersecurity firm, recently discovered a significant vulnerability in the Bosch BCC100 thermostat.
This issue could allow hackers to access and manipulate the thermostat’s settings or even install malicious software.
This discovery underscores a broader concern. Virtually any device connected to the internet, from your coffee machine to your security cameras, could be at risk.
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Bosch BCC100 thermostat (Bosch)
Bosch is the latest in a long history of vulnerable thermostats
Several connected or “smart” thermostats have reported security vulnerabilities over the years. These incidents highlight the broader issue of security in the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Here are a fewexamples:
1. Google Nest Thermostats: In the past, Google’s Nest thermostats have had their share of security concerns. For instance, in 2016, researchers demonstrated that it was possible to exploit the USB connection to install malicious firmware. Google has since made efforts to improve the security of these devices.
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2. Honeywell Thermostats: Honeywell, another prominent thermostat manufacturer, has faced issues with its smart thermostats. In 2015, a security researcher discovered vulnerabilities in Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostats that could allow an attacker to remotely access the device’s password and personal information.
3. Trane Thermostats: In 2016, Trane’s ComfortLink II thermostats were found to have multiple vulnerabilities, including one that allowed remote access without proper authentication. These issues were later addressed through firmware updates.
Bosch BCC100 thermostat app (Bosch)
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How hackers can manipulate a smart thermostat vulnerability
The problem with the BCC100 thermostat stems from its design. It uses two microcontrollers, one for Wi-Fi and another for the main logic. The flaw lies in the communication between these chips.
Bosch BCC100 thermostat (Bosch)
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An attacker could exploit this to send commands, including harmful updates, to the thermostat. This vulnerability was serious enough for Bosch to start working on a fix as soon as Bitdefender reported it.
We’ve made contact with Bosch’s parent company which offered the following statement:
“Security is a top priority at Bosch Home Comfort. Our experts continuously monitor threats and implement prompt countermeasures.
“On Aug. 29, 2023, Bitdefender notified Bosch about a potential vulnerability with Bosch Home Comfort thermostats sold in the U.S. and Canada. We immediately took up this information to confirm the vulnerability, as well as develop and test the solution.
“Through this testing, we also confirmed that the vulnerability was limited to the device only. On Oct. 12, 2023, a software update was pushed to all affected customers. Full details are posted on the Bosch Product Security Incident Response Team site (Open Port 8899 in BCC Thermostat Product | Bosch PSIRT).”
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Bosch BCC100 thermostat (Bosch)
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How dangerous are home-connected gadgets?
What does this mean for you as a smart home user? First and foremost, it’s a reminder of the importance of keeping your devices updated. In the case of the BCC100, updating the firmware is a critical step in protecting against this specific threat.
A Bosch bulletin says you can call 1-800-283-3787 for customer support if you need extra help with updating both the thermostat firmware and Wi-Fi firmware. However, beyond just updating, there are four other steps you can take to safeguard your smart home.
1. Change the administrative password ASAP
Changing the default administrative passwords on your devices is a good start. Many users overlook this simple step, but it’s a crucial line of defense against unauthorized access. Also, consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.
2. Disconnect from Wi-Fi: Hackers routinely look for any door into your home
Another vital practice is to think twice before connecting devices to the internet through through Wi-Fi. Ask yourself, does my coffee maker really need to be online? If a device doesn’t need internet access to function effectively, consider keeping it offline.
3. Turn on firewalls
Employing a firewall is another smart move. Firewalls help block unauthorized access to your devices, adding an extra layer of security. It’s like having a digital gatekeeper for your smart home.
4. Always deploy antivirus protection on phones, tablets and computers
Lastly, when purchasing smart home devices, prioritize security. Look for products from manufacturers who are committed to regular security updates and have a good track record in this area. Remember, even the most seemingly harmless devices can pose security risks if they’re not properly secured. See the top reviews for the best antivirus protection options here.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
The Bosch thermostat incident is a stark reminder of the potential vulnerabilities in our smart homes. By taking proactive steps like updating firmware, changing default passwords, being selective about internet connectivity, using firewalls and choosing secure devices, you can significantly enhance the security of your connected home. Stay informed, stay updated and stay secure.
Do you think manufacturers are doing enough to protect your smart home devices from potential security vulnerabilities like the one discovered in the Bosch BCC100 thermostat? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact
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