From the Blogosphere
How to Turn Your Microwave into a Camera | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #Security
All kidding aside, there is no way to take a microwave oven and use it 'as is' as a surveillance tool
By: Shelly Palmer
Mar. 29, 2017 03:00 PM
You can turn a microwave into a camera and I’ll teach you how in a minute, but before I do, let me share this news item. In a recent interview with a reporter from the Bergen Record, Kellyanne Conway was asked about surveillance. She responded: “There are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, etc. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”
On its face, her statement about “microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera” is ridiculous. It reminds me of the late Sen. Ted Stevens’ famous “Tubes” speech. I went right after “Uncle Ted” for his techno–faux pas, but even then, there were bigger issues to consider. It would be exceptionally easy to jump all over Ms. Conway for her techno–faux pas. But doing so would be taking a cheap shot at an easy target while completely missing a very, very important teaching moment.
You Cannot Hide
Professionals Have Countermeasures
A Massive Gap in Understanding
The Imminent Danger of IoT
Data security is already a formidable problem, and it will be an even bigger problem moving forward. But device security is also going to command our attention. There are almost no ubiquitously agreed-upon security standards for IoT devices. Just how many unregulated transceivers with central processing units do you want in your home? Is the hard-coded, unchangeable password to that network-connected, budget indoor/outdoor thermometer “1234?” If so, welcome to hacker heaven. Could an inexpensive device like this be used by hackers to commit a massive DDoS attack? In October 2016, that’s exactly what happened.
Will someone hack your devices to do something even worse? Time will tell, but Kellyanne Conway could have used her moment in the spotlight to ask real questions about IoT. BTW, earlier this week, Maureen Ohlhausen, acting head of the Federal Trade Commission, said the “Internet of Things should self-regulate.” ’Nuff said.
Turning Your Microwave into a Camera
Take a smartphone and connect it to your local area network (WiFi). Download any time-lapse photography app you like. Now, duct tape the smartphone to your microwave. Do your best to camouflage it and hide the charging cord. Walk away saying something like, “Nothing to see here, folks” to divert the attention of the curiosity seekers.
Your microwave has now been turned into a camera. Of course, it will still work as a microwave – that’s what’s so great about this! Who in their right mind would ever think a microwave could be turned into a camera?
Importantly, this is not true of other devices Ms. Conway mentioned. A professional can easily install software in a smart television (which typically features a microphone for voice recognition and a camera for gesture control) for surveillance use. In practice, anything with a transducer (microphone or speaker) in your home that is network-connected is a relatively easy target for espionage. But – and this is a big but – in almost every case, someone would need to break into your home to do the required modifications. This is not true with respect to turning your smart phones or some other types of smart devices against you. That can be done remotely.
Lastly, none of these surveillance techniques are easy to accomplish, and all of them require a warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction. But the rules only apply to governments and law enforcement. Criminals (hackers and other bad guys) don’t tend to follow rules or regulations. That’s what makes them criminals. So, without promoting fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) and without espousing conspiracy theories, let me leave you with one thought. It’s the Wild West, it’s getting wilder by the day, and there ain’t no sheriff.
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