Can A Nest Thermostat Be Hacked?

can nest thermostat be hacked

Smart Thermostat is convincing humans to work smarter. These are one of the best smart home gadgets which will save your time and energy as well. From smart door locks to voice-controlled appliances, we have everything that works with artificial intelligence but have security breaches as well. Nest Thermostat is one of them.

Can nest thermostat be hacked? The answer is Yes. If you are a Nest lover then this might surprise you that hackers could use Nest Thermostat As An Entry Point Into Your Home. Researchers at the blackhat security conferences worried that Nest Thermostats have the majority of hacking breaches than any other Nest smart home Gadget.

If you are wondering how someone can hack a device that is integrated with Google. Nest Thermostats are one of the most secure devices Integrated with the Internet but still, there are some incidents to worry about these smart devices. Researchers had some points to share the vulnerabilities with Google, Nest, and Users.

But do not worry, here are some instructions to secure your Nest thermostat or any other smart home gadget from being stolen or hacked.

How the Nest thermostat can be hacked?

Nest Thermostats are programmable, and self-learning Wi-Fi-enabled smart devices that control the temperature or heating system. You can set it to turn itself down when you are away from home and balance the temperature. Google Nest thermostat is one of the best smart thermostats we have tested and the best thing with this Nest thermostat is it manages your home with the least amount of input.

If you want to know how security breaches occur then we have to study the working of a Thermostat. First thing, you don’t have to program it yourself. That’s a good thing because a lot of hacking devices have poor programming in common. After Installing this thermostat on your wall, just select your heating and cooling options and the thermostat will do the rest. It automatically switches the systems based on the temperature detected in the room.

Hackers could use Google-owned Nest’s smart product Thermostat as a security breach to gain control of all other smart devices as well. The research was done by the professors to show the vulnerabilities that Nest thermostats can emit.

According to security researchers, Nest is one of the most secure devices that can be used in your home. Yet, it is possible to hack the Thermostat. For this, the hacker has to get physical access to the device. If someone purchased the used Thermostat, you are inviting someone to access your device without your knowledge.

TrapX engineering professors found that they could get control of Nest’s Linux OS. When the device is loading the customs software before or while booting the OS, the attacker can break the device’s security walls. Moreover, the USB port is more dangerous than the OS in this device.

It will load the attacker’s custom software and it will stop sending the data and message to the Nest’s original services. Attackers can receive this data if the device is under their control.

Professor warned the Nest about this loophole on the device but still, there is no possible solution to the breach. The entire device was demonstrated by holding the power button for 10 seconds and while it’s refreshing, one can plug the USB flash drive to inject the custom software designed by the hacker to take control over the device.

Nest has a strong point that Thermostat is completely a wireless device that has a low tendency for vulnerabilities. But the thing is ‘USB Port is lightly secured’. You can update the firmware manually using the USB or if something is wrong with the device, you can install a custom OS or firmware.

Generally, Thermostat has a tiny Linux computer, 2GB memory, Wi-Fi and proximity sensors. Now, it’s the big deal. Nest thermostats have all the information that is provided by you. It knows your location and worse than that, it can tell you whether you are home or away.

Now, Imagine if someone took control of your thermostat and watched your moves. That’s scary when you completely rely on a bad Thermostat or any other smart gadget.

Nest programming is not so secure that it’s just like another smart home gadget. Nest uses the Internet to communicate with the cloud where it stores all the data. But it can also connect with any other device on the Internet if the modifications are striking from the attacker.

In an interview, Jin (Central Florida’s engineering professor) said that “The problem with the Nest thermostat is its built-in hardware. There are some minor issues regarding the hardware”.

While Nest home cloud stores the data of users, the data will be transmitted through Air which is safer from the attacks. But the data that is stored in OS and Nest hub is not encrypted.

The major vulnerability that raises the protection issues is taking over Wi-Fi control. When all your Nest gadgets connected with the Wi-Fi network, attackers can start receiving messages from Thermostats and door locks. If you are using an older version of PC connected to the same Wi-fi network, your PC would also fall in the trap.

Not only door locks, but every smart home gadget that is connected with the Wi-Fi would also be in danger if the hacker entered inside the security wall.

Limitations of the security breaches

There are some limitations to the attacker and physical access is the major point. The attacker needs physical access to the device to inject the custom OS. If there is no chance that strangers cannot touch your Thermostat then you are safe.

Nest also tested to implement the ARP spoofing detection software in the Nest home products. The ARP is a communication protocol used to track down the physical and IP addresses.

Attackers may not receive data from devices using this Anti-ARP detection software. Security issues are big challenges to any smart gadget that uses Artificial intelligence.

Nest said, “Jailbreaks cannot interfere in the connection between servers and devices. We are constantly working to improve the security of all Nest products”.

When the hacker turns up the Thermostat

After the incident when hackers spoke with the House owners through their smart home cameras, people are worried about data security or privacy issues. There are more horror incidents when the security cameras were hacked.

Samantha Westmoreland returned home from work and she noticed that the thermostat temperature set higher. She thought it was a glitch and then turned it back to the normal temperature. However, it didn’t take much time to realize that the device was hacked when she heard a strange voice.

She said that she heard the voice from the Nest security camera and began playing vulgar music. The attacker hacked security cameras, Thermostats, and speakers. Soon after the incident, they reached the Internet providers to change their IP and network ID.

When Google came to know about the Incident they mentioned that “Nest was not breached but they are tracked down because of using the compromised passwords. In nearly all cases, compromised passwords are the reason for security breaches. All of our customers have to enable two-factor authentication to eliminate the risk of attacks.”

Is Nest thermostat secure inside?

Yes, the Nest thermostat is secure if you follow some security guidelines. If you are still using the old password combinations or if you got the used Thermostats then you are in trouble of breaching ghosts. If you purchase a new one from the official store, the next step you should do is to set-up a high-security passcode.

As Nest and other researchers said, the only thing that bothers them is physical access to the Thermostat. You have to fix the Thermostat where no one can easily touch it.

As long as you are connected to the active internet connection, Thermostats work. It will run on schedule but you cannot make any changes like temperature change.

The software is already installed from the Nest, but when there is an update from the Nest, you will get the notification from Nest to update the software.

Some Thermostats integrate with IFTTT which will allow you to make things easier. You can program your Thermostat for instance and you can program the systems automatically turn on when you arrive home.
How does Nest know if I am home?

Nest sense relies on a motion sensor that tells the device when the room is empty. If the sensor fails to detect any motion for a period of time, Nest sense considers the room is empty and will enable the AWAY feature. When someone enters the room, the sensors will start to detect the motion.

Your thermostat can learn what you teach from day one. You can set your own heating or cooling schedules. You can also set safety temperatures, which prevents your home from sudden heating or cooling temperature issues.

With the auto-schedule mode, your Nest thermostats learn what you teach. After a few days of learning what temperature you like during different times of the day, Thermostat will prepare a customized schedule for you.

Turning Up the Security on Nest Thermostats

The nest is surrounded by security breaches especially when security cameras and Thermostats were hacked. So, Nest is always recommending the two-factor authentication for Nest users. Two-factor authentication is slow but it’s a security patch everyone must follow.

The thermostat connects the Internet to the highest energy use appliance within your home HVAC system. This means it has the biggest ability to impact on energy consumption. You can check more about Nest thermostat’s details on Google’s official page.

How to Keep the Nest smart Thermostat secure?

When you have a party at your home, a lot of people enter and can use your Thermostat. To keep the Thermostat safe from others, you can lock your Nest thermostat from the settings menu on your thermostat home screen or you can do it using the app on your phone.

It is a good practice to lock your Thermostat being accessed by the Guest and kids. Unless you share the security PIN with someone, no one can change the temperature.

Always use a separate room to connect this Thermostat where only your family members can reach the device. If you already enabled the two-factor authentication, it’s good. More than 50 million Nest users enabled two-factor authentication.

The app is integrated with the device, you should keep the app safe. You can even lock the app or enable the two-factor-authentication for the mobile app too.

If you are receiving suspected emails from strangers promoting their products, you have to cross-check it. Thermostat knows all the information when you leave your home, when you reach your home and when you go to sleep. The thermostat has all this information which should be noted.

Advertisers can use this technique to promote their products. If you receive such emails and calls from advertisers, you should immediately reset the Thermostat or you can inform the Nest about this.

Before purchasing any smart thermostat, check the privacy policy of the company. It will tell you how your information is being shared. If the authority suddenly shifted to another company, you have to re-read the privacy policy of new owners.

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