HVAC industry in trouble: hackers attack WiFi thermostats

By X -CIO

Got a smart thermostat? That may not be a good thing. At DEF CON earlier this month, hackers demonstrated how incredibly easy it is to hack a WiFi thermostat, taking advantage of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems in return for ransom. No longer a hypothetical “what if,” someone with the knowledge could quite literally break into these systems and melt or freeze the occupants until a ransom is paid to obtain a PIN to unlock it. If your thermostat runs a modified version of Linux, has a large LCD screen, and also an SD card, you’re up. The various hacks are pretty brutal — consider this: your heater set to 99 degrees until you pay up. Or — even worse, blasting heat and cold air at the same time so that you “bleed money for the utility bill” until you give them what they want so that they give up (but will they?).

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