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Home assistant gets bricked… but Google says not so fast.
A smart home device developed by Google can be temporarily rendered inoperable with just a single line of code, a security advocate has revealed.
Jerry Gamblin, a self-described problem solver and hacker, outlined in a blog post this week just how easily Google’s Home Hub can be bricked.
After purchasing the home assistant, Gamblin says he discovered how to make the device forget all stored Wi-Fi connections, forcing it back to the setup screen.
“This command basically makes the device unusable until you manually reconfigure it using the Google Home application,” Gamblin wrote.
Another line of code, entered without needing any authentication, also forced the Home Hub to reboot.
— Jerry Gamblin (@JGamblin) October 27, 2018
Gamblin also crafted codes to erase certain settings, gather device info, and disable notifications.
“I am genuinely shocked by how poor the overall security of these devices are, even more so when you see that these endpoints have been known for years and relatively well documented,” Gamblin wrote.
A Google spokesperson, however, pushed back on Gamblin’s findings in a statement to CNET, arguing that an attacker would already have to be connected to your home Wi-Fi to deliver malicious code.
“All Google Home devices are designed with user security and privacy top of mind and use a hardware-protected boot mechanism to ensure that only Google-authenticated code is used on the device,” the statement said. “In addition, any communication carrying user information is authenticated and encrypted.”
Describing Gamblin’s findings as “inaccurate,” Google further stated that “Despite what’s been claimed, there is no evidence that user information is at risk.”
CNET says the findings point more to the importance of securing your home Wi-Fi than to issues surrounding digital home assistants.
Mikael Thalen is a freelance journalist based in Seattle, covering all things technology, including social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.