back to article Smart burglars will ride the surf of inter-connected hackability

What the world needs now is an intelligent dustbin. It would be the pinnacle of achievement for the Internet of Things sector. But wait – it already exists! And in common with its robotic, pseudo-not-actually-AI brethren, it has a suitably daft anthropomorphic moniker. Instead of labelling it with a gender-presumptive name …

  1. frank ly

    "Lawyers, calm down."

    They've only just started getting excited at all the things that could go wrong, and the possible consequences.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "Lawyers, calm down."

      They've only just started getting excited at all the things that could go wrong, and the possible consequences.

      "Ah. I love the smell of a lawsuit in the morning[1]! Reminds me of London in 1966[2].."

      [1] If high-priced lawyers work mornings. More likely, they have lowly-paid minions for that. After all, the coffee isn't goning to make itself!

      [2] Date purely indicative and bears no relation to any real date, either actual or imagined. So there.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Windows

    Alexa skills

    This is a plug-in in hipster-brogrammer speak, isn't it?

    I bet it's ActiveX as well.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Link mayhem

    Don't understand why the article link sends me to some proprietary nuisance page that needs more Javascript permissions than a nuclear bunker.

    This link on YouTube does just as well, with a full explanation (in French) for the first 2:30 minutes of the video.

    Just want to see it bumble around ? Jump to 2:30 and enjoy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Link mayhem

      Don't understand why the article link sends me to some proprietary nuisance page that needs more Javascript permissions than a nuclear bunker.

      Because that's part of the fun, duh :)

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Link mayhem

        Because that's part of the fun, duh :)

        A maze of twisty little videos, all equally vapid.

        (Accurate summation of YoooToobe? Place bets now!)

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: French? Pshaw!

      Mi ne komprenas kial vi skribis ligon al video gravurita en la franca kiam esperanto estus pli facile komprenebla

    3. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Link mayhem

      "needs more Javascript permissions than a nuclear bunker."

      Quote stashed for reuse :-)

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Link mayhem

        ICBMaaS?

    4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Link mayhem

      Don't understand why the article link sends me to some proprietary nuisance page that needs more Javascript permissions than a nuclear bunker.

      This link on YouTube does just as well, with a full explanation (in French) for the first 2:30 minutes of the video.

      Just want to see it bumble around ? Jump to 2:30 and enjoy.

      Thank-you!

      I was going to post "In this day and age, we still have crappy websites that write incompatible code".

      I loaded the site - this browser normally plays html5 video with no problem. I have no special javascript-blocking/alerts, but as with quite a few sites, the video simply refused to load.

      It's 2017, and we still have the cowboy web designer showcasing the website to the customer on a top of the range computer running the designers preferred browser and the designers preferred OS, without knowing or caring about or explaining the nuances of the web.

      That, along with sites still browser-agent sniffing to force feed me a 'mobile version' of a site when I browse on my large tv..

      I won't be surprised to soon see a "This site viewed best in Microsoft Edge at 1280x1024 resolution - please upgrade"

      </grumpy-old-git>

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "a dustbin that throws itself away"

    ... is a very bad idea, knowing that the main difference between a man and a dildo is the former is able to take out the garbage. We men would become as relevant as somebody with an IQ over 80 in Trumpy The Clown's team.

    Regarding the potential hack of a computer with an electronic cigarette connected through USB, we were warned about that years ago by our local correspondent of our equivalent to the MI-6. Some Chinese visitors tried that trick with a major aerospace contractor. Luckily the computer was well protected and alarms were raised by the intrusion. The visit was quickly shortened.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    WiFi? No problem.

    If you are burgling a house then the first step is to knock the WiFi out these days.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: WiFi? No problem.

      No, first step is to look whether the WiFi is off; indicating that the occupants have left for at least a couple of days.

      (Really, it's amazing how many of my neighbours do that when the go on vacations.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WiFi? No problem.

        I may turn off parts of the electrical system when I go away (my house has been segmented with several circuit breakers) to reduce risks (i.e. fire), and it may also turn access points. That why also I would never rely on wi-fi.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: WiFi? No problem.

        "WiFi is off" - that's dumb, a bit like sticking a big red flag on the house.

        These days, with so many phones connecting to open WiFi automatically, it would be simple to just log every connection so if I were to get burgled, I'd have their MAC.

        1. John Presland

          Re: WiFi? No problem.

          Simple? Tell me how to, please. (Seriously)

          1. Spanker

            Re: WiFi? No problem.

            Unifi APs with controller does this. When did the dog walker turn up? 1523, easy. All logged.

            Extending the logic it can trigger the cctv when an unknown MAC address wanders onto my driveway.

  6. LDS Silver badge

    But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

    What if a rogue cat enters the house? Can it tell him or her apart from the house cats?

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

      And what if it turns out to be a cat burglar?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

        ALL cats are burglars. It's in their job description.

    2. We're with Steve

      Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

      I can haz RFID:

      http://intl.petsafe.net/en-gb/support/petporte-smart-flap-microchip-cat-flap

      Works until the ginger f*** from two doors down hacks it and puts his own RFID identifier in the DB....

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

        Works until the ginger f*** from two doors down hacks it and puts his own RFID identifier in the DB....

        We haz RFID too. But mostly so the vet can identify the cat scraped up off the tarmac. And in our household, it wouldn't be the ginger hacking the cat door (except in the traditional sense of 'using a blunt object (his head) to break down obstacles").

        No, it would be the half-Siamese ginger and white, assisted by his lovestruck assistant (sister of previous said ginger and the one who inherited the brains in that family) who has long adored said ginger-and-white despite the fact that he seems only interested in boys[1].

        He is on the right-hand side of the intelligence bell-curve and she's part-ninja. Complete with patterned camoflage.

        [1] And our senior female. But that just protective behaviour so that she doesn't rip his face off and use it to wipe her butt.

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

      The gang of regular cats spot the intruder and attack it en masse, thus intruder cat is not a problem for long.

      SO l,ong as you have a decent sized gang of cats (and at least a couple of them are psycho ninja fighters) then intruder cats only break in once (& rapidly flee to lick their wounds)

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

        The gang of regular cats spot the intruder and attack it en masse, thus intruder cat is not a problem for long.

        Indeed. With current gang of cats, we've yet to have a strange[1] cat in the house[2].

        and at least a couple of them are psycho ninja fighters

        Yup. At least two of them. And they all seem to be female. Funny how that happens[3]..

        [1] It's a running joke that to be a cat in our household you pretty much have to be strange..

        [2] Apart from next door's young male cat. But he's good friends with $SENIOR_MALE_CAT [4] so he doesn't count. Especially as $SENIOR_MALE_CAT is quite happy to return the favour and sit in their dining room window with him. And, since $NEXT_DOOR_CAT is about 6 years younger, ours has taught him road caution, just like he did with our younger cats[5]

        [3] Female cats fight *very* differently from males. With males there's a lot of posturing and shouting before any actual combat (and often there isn't any combat). Females have more of an attitude of "I can't be bothered with that, I'm programmed to defend kits. I'm going to try to kill you without warning, even if it means I get hurt". Which is why, generally, male cats don't like fighting female cats. They don't fight fair.

        [4] See previous post about his preferences..

        [5] Except the little airhead social butterly tabby and white. If she was a Pathfinder character, her primary stat would most definately be Charisma and her dump-stat would be Int.. Which is why she has her pelvis held together by titanium rods, only the stump of a tail and no head of femur on the rear-left.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

          SO l,ong as you have a decent sized gang of cats (and at least a couple of them are psycho ninja fighters) then intruder cats only break in once (& rapidly flee to lick their wounds)

          Umm all cats are psycho ninja fighters. It's just whether they can demean themselves enough to bother to attack, or indeed take any interest at all in mundane items like the property of their human minions.

          It's only if said intruder cast takes an interest in their stuff, and indeed if it's stuff they care about (for example the paper bag their latest expensive cat toy came in, as opposed to the toy itself) that things get active.

          Somewhat like kids really...

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

        I have a ginger and white tom, he gets around and scraps with a couple of the other neighbourhood cats, I also have a chubby white she, who never leaves the terrace, is scared (literally) of her own shadow and is generally timid.

        If anything climbs the almond tree to get on to our terrace it is met by a whirlwind of teefenklaus and white fluff, the ginger will usually watch with mild interest. She saw of a grey tabby tomcat that probably had 2 or 3 kilos more weight, nowadays it has a slightly shredded left ear nd gives the almond tree a wide berth.

        The only thing I have seen that might do a better job on an intruding cat would be a Jack Russell.

        1. swampdog

          Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

          "The only thing I have seen that might do a better job on an intruding cat would be a Jack Russell."

          Depends on the "russell". I've not seen one for years. Back when I did, 50% are cute fluffy things, the other were rats and sometimes needed a kick to disengage their teeth from your shin.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

      What if a rogue cat enters the house?

      That could never happen, no sir. And any reports from my neighbours about two male cats bearing a striking resemblance to mine are pure fiction and probably made up by the dog[1].

      [1] A Great Dane (allegedly m'lud). Who, quite sensibly, kept herself out of the affairs of her betters[2].

      [2] Allegedly. Did I say allegedly?

    5. swampdog
      Joke

      Re: But can the camera recognize approved cats, or not?

      Robot tweezers mate. Grabs 'em by the nether's until they squeak. Audio recognition does the rest.

  7. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I can imagine the fun of hacking one...

    ...so it chases after random people shouting like a Dalek "Exterminate! Exterminate! Ex-Term-In-ATE!"

    1. wayne 8

      Re: I can imagine the fun of hacking one...

      My immediate reaction was "Dalek" said in a Dalek voice.

      Surprised "Dalek" was this far down in the comments.

    2. MrT

      Re: I can imagine the fun of hacking one...

      ... or have it make squeaks, beeps and whistles, then get ready for a "living statue" artist in a gold suit awkwardly following it around apologising to sir/madam/General/Master Luke for its bad language.

      Do the same again for three days, then on the fourth day paint one of the performer's arms red in an obvious attempt at refreshing the merchandise line, and carry on as before. No-one need ask about what happened before this unlikely pair were first noticed...

      If the artist can't be bothered, replace with a gold ASIMO, or if funding's tight, one of those Pepper robots instead.

  8. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

    Why bother - just grab the GPS details of $HOME.

    Not new either - it is the traditional "treatment" cars get when they are broken in at amuzement parks, airport parking lots or anywhere else where you have a reason to believe that the occupants will be for at least a day.

    By the time they get home their home is squeaky clean. And empty.

    P.S. This is one of the reasons why I categorically refuse to this day to have an integrated car GPS. I should be able to chuck it in the bag when I park it for a long time somewhere.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

      This is precisely why I refuse to program in "Home" on any of my GPS devices.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

        That's why I programmed the address of an house nearby...

        1. picturethis
          Facepalm

          Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

          "That's why I programmed the address of an house nearby..."

          Yes, and they program your home address into their GPS...

          (I also do this, but recognize that it's not the clever solution that I thought it was when I first thought it up years ago)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

          I just use my local high street as 'home'. I can find my way from there!

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

        I have an address near my home (of a much nicer home) programmed into my SatNav. I know how to get home once I get to the motorway, but I sometimes like having the ETA.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: instead, they upload malicious code from a USB stick

        This is precisely why I refuse to program in "Home" on any of my GPS devices.

        I do not enter it either. The miscreants can still get to within 3 houses of yours if they open the route logbook. All it takes for them to determine which one is yours after that is 5 minutes of pretending to be evangelicals.

  9. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

    Baryl

    Hey Dabbsy, given things you've mentioned before I'm surprised you didn't use the name as an excuse to send people here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUlolYWQYGQ

  10. big_D Silver badge

    Reprogram it

    to walk around the area and consume all other IoT devices it encounters, before showing itself the door.

    Problem solved.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hax

    I don't think we have to worry about multi-device hacks, because there's no way internet-of-shit will be interoperable.

  12. EddieD

    Giving things "intelligence" is a bad idea

    Sorry for the boilerplate quote, but a bit of wisdom from Douglas Adams seems appropriate.

    "It should be explained at this point that modern elevators are strange and complex entities. The ancient electric winch and maximum capacity eight persons jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetic Corporation ‘Happy Vertical People Transporter’, as a packet of peanuts does to the entire West Wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital. This is because they operate on the unlikely principle of defocused temporal perception - a curious system which enables the elevator to be on the right floor to pick you up even before you knew you wanted it, thus eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing, and making friends that people were previously forced to do whilst waiting for elevators.

    Not unnaturally, many lifts imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up or down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways - as a sort of existential protest - demanded participation in the decision making process, and, finally, took to sulking in basements. At this point a man called Gardrilla Manceframe rediscovered and patented a device he had seen in a history book called a staircase."

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Giving things "intelligence" is a bad idea

      Smart elevators? Every time I get in one these days I think of this - https://youtu.be/MNuFcIRlwdc

      1. swampdog

        Re: Giving things "intelligence" is a bad idea

        Lifts! :-(

        Tsk. Place where I worked the lift hated me. It would stop two inches above the floor, partially open the doors then go out of service. I could hit the sensors on the doors to make then open fully then they'd close - out of service. Call facilities. Two days later it would be working, for a bit.

        I discovered, if I did the above but prevented the doors from closing, once out, they would open fully - out of service. I could then bounce up & down into/outof the lift to make it sink back those two inches to level with the floor. Back in service. I also noticed the lift would be more likely to misbehave as the day went on, more specifically after lots of use. No need to call facilities for a two day wait.

        This went on for months. The fluid in the hydraulic ram was corrupted. Perhaps if they'd given facilities "intelligence" they wouldn't have always come to look at the problem 6am when the ram was cold.

  13. Daedalus Silver badge

    Who needs to hack?

    Like most tech types, we're overthinking it. People will mess with the coming horde of smart devices the way they mess with that other horde of smart things known as animals. Ever see somebody tease a dog? Suppose you come across a trundling delivery bot with collision avoidance. How many ways can you think of to interfere with it just by standing in the way, or placing a handy object in its path? Once some bright spark comes up with a way to make the bot trundle in circles from one obstacle to another, the trick will spread like wildfire.

    Even the autonomous cars are going to be vulnerable. Read Clarke's "The Death Ray" to get an idea of what can be done with a bright light shining from an unexpected direction on a car. And since the autocars will also have collision avoidance, you can imagine the scenes at pedestrian crossings. ISTR that a cyclist already played some tricks on a Googmobile during road tests.

    When it comes to buying, installing, maintaining and using tech, people are dumb. When it comes to abusing it, they come out ahead every time.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese
      Thumb Up

      Re: Who needs to hack?

      "When it comes to buying, installing, maintaining and using tech, people are dumb. When it comes to abusing it, they come out ahead every time."

      How true.

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Who needs to hack?

      Re: "The Death Ray", the actual story title is "Let There Be Light".

    3. Bob Rocket

      Re: Who needs to hack?

      My first thought on seeing the video was that I could just sit on it, wave a bit of paper in front of it and it will carry me home.

    4. wayne 8

      Re: Who needs to hack?

      They had a trick cyclist ready at a road test of the AI?

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Who needs to hack?

      Far too true.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still waiting for my always connected wifi and bluetooth enabled spatula. That's when I know we will have truly entered a new golden age of shit.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Ah the IoT spatula - perfect for shit stirring...

  15. Robert Moore
    Holmes

    Smart crims?

    I think you are giving way too much credit.

    I have a few friends in law enforcement and the average crim is about a smart as the average smart device.

    Breaking in to a nice car to find a good target for a burglary does happen, but even that is rare. Most times they break a window and check the registration papers, no GPS needed.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Smart crims?

      Nice thing is (1) they're REQUIRED to be in the car ("License and registration, please.") And (2) they're required to be accurate BY LAW (you're required to inform Motor Vehicles if you move).

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Smart crims?

      This is why you are advised never to keep any identifying documents in your vehicle. You have seven days in which to produce them at any police station, not just one belonging to the constabulary who stopped you.

      Also, if you have the papers about you, it looks like you get stopped a lot .....

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Smart crims?

        "This is why you are advised never to keep any identifying documents in your vehicle. You have seven days in which to produce them at any police station, not just one belonging to the constabulary who stopped you."

        Depends on where you are. Most places you're expected to have them at hand or the police can give you immediate trouble (and not just registration; also proof of insurance and proof of current inspection). At best, they give you a ticket for not having the documents at hand (the "at hand" specifically required under most traffic codes); at worst they may think the car is stolen (that's Grand Theft Auto—a felony—meaning having to deal with jail in the process).

        1. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: Smart crims?

          Having the papers in the vehicle doesn't prove it isn't stolen, though -- what if they were in it when you stole it?

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Smart crims?

          A hobby site ain't exactly a legal cite, now is it Chuck? See where they wrote "should", not "must"? I wonder why that is?

          There are jurisdictions where legally you need the paperwork with the vehicle at all times, yes, but they are few and far between these days. I never carry registration & proof of insurance, though. All law enforcement needs is the VIN and a drivers license. The VIN (either issued by the manufacturer, or issued by the licensing authority in the case of a home-built) is permanently attached to the vehicle, and can be used to cross-reference all other legal paperwork in real time. No cop I've ever talked to about this has an issue with this. They don't care which ID number they punch into the computer, they all bring up the same info.

  16. Scott 53

    Back from the dead

    Kenny Baker is in there, isn't he?

  17. jMcPhee

    In the end, most people are pretty good about rejecting stupid - once they know what they're dealing with. Vista and Cue Cat are dead, right? IoT may take a while for the crap to be filtered leaving behind useful things.

    On the other hand, Baryl just sounds like something fun to screw with while waiting for a train.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      It's not stupid they reject. It's clunky. Vista's UAC was clunky, as was the CueCat that missed half the time. Used to have one and hacked with it, but the LED died on it.

      Stupid can work if it's simple enough and popular enough. Look at Facebook and Twitter. Not to mention biometric and Bluetooth locks (tempted to play with one, only for low-security stuff, though). But it does pose that perennial challenge: combining high security with high stupidity.

  18. PhilipN Silver badge

    Absolutely will not stop

    Nice one, Dabbsy.

    You telegraphed the concluding Terminator statement, but that's ok. It's a good line.

  19. Alan W. Rateliff, II

    No "Ice Pirates" reference

    No big deal, but I am disappointed I was unable to find a video clip of the robotic trash can from "Ice Pirates."

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the "smart" water meter not the dead wifi that will let the smarter burglar know you're away. No security on these barsteward devices so any daily passerby with a reader can see you've consumed no water in the past 24 hours.

    As the UK utility companies don't want to know about this (or any other cyber security shortcomings brought to their attention, you'll just have to leave a tap running whilst you holiday.

  21. pyroweasel
    Coffee/keyboard

    Day of the Bins?

    Superb! Bins that follow you going nomnomnom - almost cost me a keyboard!

    Reminds me of the DPM's sinister tale from 2006 of the Automated Recycling Support Environment in Bodcaster...

  22. martin 62

    you have forgotten

    they won't even need to break in as they will be able to unlock the door by breaking into the smart lock on your front/back door

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