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Wireless Networking Hardware

LG Threatens To Put Wi-Fi in Every Appliance it Introduces in 2017 (arstechnica.com) 376

An anonymous reader shares a report: During the company's CES press conference today, LG marketing VP David VanderWaal says that "starting this year" all of LG's home appliances will feature "advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." One of the flagship appliances that will make good on this promise is the Smart Instaview Refrigerator, a webOS-powered Internet-connected fridge that among other things supports integration with Amazon's Alexa service.
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LG Threatens To Put Wi-Fi in Every Appliance it Introduces in 2017

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  • Thank you LG! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:44AM (#53633229)
    For making my shopping easier. With all the choices out there, I can just cross LG off the list of anything I'd own.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:55AM (#53633307)

      I'm starting to worry that I'm going to have to wrap my house in a Faraday cage in a few years just to prevent a Maximum Overdrive-style attack from my own fucking appliances

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm starting to worry that I'm going to have to wrap my house in a Faraday cage in a few years just to prevent a Maximum Overdrive-style attack from my own fucking appliances

        Can't you simply refuse to configure the WiFi? it should remain as a dumb appliance if you don't configure the WiFi.

        • Re:Thank you LG! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:31AM (#53633607)

          I'm sure they'll have thought of this. The refridgeration probably won't start running until after it's phoned home and confirmed its ability to spy on you with LG's servers.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            What a thought. It's like a depressingly realistic outcome that eventually every. fucking. electronic device manufactured won't operate until phone-homing is set up.

            Appliances will just get cheaper than ever, almost free.

            Listen to this 30 second ad (and take a quiz?) to maintain operation of your refrigerator or to start the wash cycle on your laundry machine.

            • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @12:48PM (#53634425) Homepage Journal
              The Marketing Division of LG is a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
          • So you allow it for 30 minutes a day. I can put schedules on my firewall to do that.
          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            The refridgeration probably won't start running until after it's phoned home

            That's when you exercise the return policy.

        • by Zitchas ( 713512 )

          My suspicion is that they'll all have secondary configurations so that, baring an active network that you set up, they network to each other and establish a mesh-style network until they managed to reach an internet-connected device somewhere.

          Making sure I build my house as a faraday cage (assuming I can ever afford to do so with today's prices) just went up my list of priorities a few notches.

        • You're missing the fun you can have with this. Exchange the washer and vacuum WiFi units and do the same with the fridge and toilet units.

      • Re:Thank you LG! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:23AM (#53633525)

        I'm starting to worry that I'm going to have to wrap my house in a Faraday cage in a few years just to prevent a Maximum Overdrive-style attack from my own fucking appliances

        Can you imagine? I'm wondering what the hell wireless system we're going to have here. I live in an individual dwelling neighborhood, low density, and see at least 20 routers every day on 2.4 - to the point where I had to use 5 GHz, because 2.4 was worthless.

        So now we're going to add a Refrigerator, a washer and dryer, a stove, the heating and cooling, the garage door opener, the Window blinds, the toilet, and whatever else they can figure out how to shoehorn a wireless connection onto?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:47AM (#53633753)

          I'm sure a wifi enabled shoehorn is coming too

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        Hee, hee the bricks that my house are made from manage to achieve this with me doing nothing if you crush one of the bricks form the house with a hammer and stick a strong magnet in it, a substantial portion of the brick sticks to the magnet.

        Even better the slate tiles in the roof also do a really good job of attenuating signals as well. The overall result is so bad/good (depending on your viewpoint) that I need to deploy a femtocell to get a usable mobile signal inside the house. The big plus is that the W

    • Re:Thank you LG! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:57AM (#53633323) Homepage Journal

      For making my shopping easier. With all the choices out there, I can just cross LG off the list of anything I'd own.

      Absolutely!!!

      I do NOT want all my appliances and such, internet connected and reporting back to God knows whom my household habits, lifestyle, consumption....

      Late last year, I bought a new LG french door refrigerator..and it is great.

      It was even then, starting to get to be a PITA to find a fridge with GOOD basic needs, like optimizing internal storage space, decent basic ice maker and water dispenser.

      If they put wifi on everything, it would be ok IF AND ONLY IF it can be disabled and NOT required for operation.

      Otherwise, no thanks...I don't need any other items I purchase potentially spying on my life. Its bad enough you can't hardly get a fucking car these days that doesn't phone home.

    • Re:Thank you LG! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:59AM (#53633337) Homepage

      Unfortunately, these things will sell really well.

      You already see everyone crowded around the Samsung fridge with LCD display in the shop. Consumers don't think through the security implications, they just see something that looks like the cool stuff they see in Hollywood movies and want to own it because consumerism is how people fulfil themselves these days.

      • Re:Thank you LG! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:11AM (#53633441)
        Unfortunately developers do not think about security implications either, and worse yet, companies are closing down their QA departments and trying to foist the QA responsibilties onto developers.

        The only solution that I can see is to force product liability on to the manufacturers when these devices are found to have software vulnerabilities. This requires regulation though, so I don't think it's going to happen for some time unless the right people get sufficiently burned by it. And "the right people" probably are buying SubZero or Viking, not Lucky-Goldstar.
        • This.

          The answer to security, everywhere, not just IoT, is litigation.

          Security starts with the hardware/software manufacturers and includes proper implementation by the end user.

          Weak links should be showing up in court.

        • We can't have that! Regulation gets in the way of innovation and profits!

          And regulation contributes to BIG GOVERNMENT. LG should be allowed to do whatever they want, without any sort of impedance, and just let the markets sort themselves out. That's how these things work, right?

          Those with the knowledge can simply avoid buying the products, or work around the issue. Those with the power can for manufacturers to change what they're doing. Everyone else will just have to live with any issues that arise.

      • Crowding around it and buying it are two different things. I just bought a new fridge and the most important aspects were size, noise, power consumption (running costs) and price. If I'd seen one with an LCD in a shop, I'd have gone and poked it for novelty value, but it wouldn't have contributed to my purchasing decision (except if it came with any kind of network connectivity to check that it came with a 20 year support contract for security updates).
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Sure, but you aren't the average consumer. White goods used to last decades, but were expensive. These days they are relatively much cheaper, but also only last a few years. It's obviously a bad trade off for most people, better to spend 2x as much up front for 4x the lifespan, but most consumers don't think like that.

          Plus there is the bling factor. iPhones are expensive and worse than the competition in almost every way. The bastards even took away the headphone jack, and people still buy it. They are clea

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            White goods used to last decades, but were expensive. These days they are relatively much cheaper, but also only last a few years.

            Energy efficiency mandates will do that. The compressors in new refrigerators have to be so small that they run constantly, which imposes more wear and tear.

            • Energy efficiency mandates will do that. The compressors in new refrigerators have to be so small that they run constantly, which imposes more wear and tear.

              While that might explain SOME of the issues for specific appliances, it certainly isn't the only reason for poor product lifespan nowadays.

              I have a stand mixer given to me by my mother, who bought it in the 1960s. She used it very frequently for decades (she used to bake wedding cakes as an occasional side job). Then she gave it to me about 15 years ago. It's still going strong.

              I know two people who have bought the same popular brands of mixer in the past decade, and they've both had serious problems

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I love those Fridges! They are running Android 5.1 so they are already 3 years out of date and you know they will never get an OS update or any application updates.

        Your fridge that lasts 5 to 10 years will not have to be replaced every year due to OS problems.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        And the critics are also forgetting about the private label manufacturing of these things. My fridge says it's a Sears, but it's actually an LG and was cheaper than the equivalent LG at the time I bought it because of the way these things actually reach various sales channels and who's having what sale at what time.

        If LG has the ability to make these things at a very competitive unit cost, the usual MBA thinking is to just buy them from LG and rebrand them versus upgrading their own factories.

        And if LG int

    • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:26AM (#53633565) Homepage Journal

      on account of Internet of Hacked. if I had one, I'd block it at the router.

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      While I agree in principle, it's not like it's difficult to prevent that crap from talking to the outside world.

    • For making my shopping easier. With all the choices out there, I can just cross LG off the list of anything I'd own.

      Just saying something is smart or wifi enabled is a good way to cross things off the list of potential purchases unless you are buying something for that specific use. I expect my router to be wifi enabled for example, not my toaster.

  • Unless I'm missing something, if you don't want this functionality just don't give it your wifi password? Not really a "threat"...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:49AM (#53633265)

      The "threat" comes when somebody with an exploit kit and a laptop drives by and turns your fridge into a ransomeware tool that spoils your food and posts naked photos of you getting up for a midnight snack on reddit.

      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:16AM (#53633479)
        It's also fairly likely that these appliances will be "promiscuous" with regard to trying to find WIFI to connect to, because the average consumer can't be counted-on to be tech-savvy enough to set it up properly, and the average appliance installer probably can't either. Even if someone never configures the WIFI, the fridge will probably be configured, out of the box, to look for WIFI, so anyone within range that sets themselves up as a hotspot will become a perferred network for the appliance.

        I'm not 100% against the idea of appliances with some kind of network communication, but I am very much against it with the current IoT mindset, which revolves around people in positions of authority that do not understand the ramifications of the threat. Unfortunately I do not see this changing until these manufacturers lose their shirts over compromised applicances.
    • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:50AM (#53633271)

      Yes, it is a threat - if a device can be connected to, it's exposed to compromise.

      I want my fridge to keep my milk, meet and liquor cold. I do not want it to tell me anything, ever. I do not want it to engage with me, to use my bandwidth, to report back to LG on my shopping habits, to fill out a grocery list, or do ANYTHING except serve as a platform to chill the things I desire chilled.

      Bad enough that pacemakers are getting hacked and hospital networks are getting shut down - I have zero interest in furthering this stupid fucking push to make everything available for someone else to exploit.

      • switch liquor to quality scotch so that it doesn't need to be chilled.

        Problem solved.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So what you're saying is that if he drinks enough "quality scotch" that he won't notice that the remainder of his unrefrigerated food has gone bad.

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            "So what you're saying is that if he drinks enough "quality scotch" that he won't notice that the remainder of his unrefrigerated food has gone bad."

            There's a reason haggis [wikipedia.org] is closely associated with Scotland.
          • I do drink scotch. However, as a scotch drinker, one does not refrigerate scotch.

            On my liquor bar I have...

            1. Johnny Walker Blue Label.
            2. Johnny Walker Blue Label (full of Johnny Walker Double Black for people who don't know scotch or think it should be mixed or have ice in it).
            3. Signatory 1988 Fettercairn (Bottle #211 out of #216)

            In the fridge I have....Milk.

            In the freezer I have two little metal cubes that can be used to chill scotch if people so desire.

            None of which requires internet.

      • The second someone hacks my refrigerator and makes my beer get warm, someone is going to DIE...

        And worse, with the future these dumbasses want, even light bulbs will be connected. So once an intruder has bypassed the fridge, surely it will be nothing to disable all the light bulbs, so good luck even finding your way to that warm beer in the first place!

        LG really is simplifying shopping; just add their name to the boycott list and avoid.

    • Just more editorial bias. The thought is that embedded wifi will only ever be a security risk, and could never possibly be of use to anyone.

      On a slightly related note: I am always surprised (ok, maybe not surprised but annoyed) at how many members of this (ostensibly) "science and tech" news aggregate always seem to be so vehemently against the proliferation of technology into our daily lives. I get that there are inherent security risks and problems, but as someone who enjoys the lightning pace that socie
      • by starblazer ( 49187 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:05AM (#53633391) Homepage

        I think what the science and tech community is complaining about is feature creep. I don't need my toaster to have bluetooth to tell me the toast is done. I need the toaster to last a year or three.

        I don't want a fridge that can phone home to the masters and have them pester me about a 'service tech' should come out and vacuum the coils. I can do that myself.

        Just because we can put a wifi card in it doesn't mean we should. If you really wanted to make sure your fridge was at a safe temp... you can do that already with an Arduino and a sensor. No vendor lock-in... no calling home to daddy corporation with your personal habits (shopping and usage).

        Give me an appliance that are built to last for at least a decade.... and I'll start letting you throw Wifi in it.

        • Egads. If you want to check the temperature in your refrigerator, put a thermometer in it.
        • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:05PM (#53634609)
          While I am generally in the same camp, when you look at the slick design Samsung has integrating the communications between the phone, washer/dryer, TV, and Fridge... it opens up interesting possibilities. The display showing the interior of the fridge the last time it was closed is great; the multiple cameras do a good job of sticking together the interior. It is cool that you can "keep watching the game" from the fridge, or know exactly how long the washing machine has left.

          For many people, the idea that more milk arrives on your doorstep when you need it is nice as well.

          I am at peace with the LAN of Things... just hate the WAN and WLAN of Things... I don't want Things to use wireless communications where I cannot unplug/filter the content reliably.
        • Give me an appliance that are built to last for at least a decade.... and I'll start letting you throw Wifi in it.

          I absolutely agree with everything you said -- but I will just add that it's these "features" that frequently decrease product lifespan.

          For example: Why are modern stoves loaded with digital displays and buttons to select temperature, etc.? Why can't I just have a mechanical dial to select temperature? Seriously -- ovens tend to reach temperatures above 500 degees F (much higher if you use self-cleaning). And no matter how much heat shielding you put around stuff, there are going to be major temperatur

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @11:40AM (#53633663) Journal

        The thought is that embedded wifi will only ever be a security risk, and could never possibly be of use to anyone.

        No, the thought is that embedded WiFi is a security risk and this risk outweighs the benefits. A typical fridge lasts, what, 10-20 years? Do you think LG is going to be back-porting network stack security fixes to Linux for 20 years? Do you think that, even if they wanted to, they will make enough profit on fridges to be able to afford to? Over the last 3-4 years, I've lost track of the number of vulnerabilities that enable anyone who can send a packet to the stack to gain kernel-level privilege. Will LG be fixing all of these for the lifetime of the fridge?

        • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @09:21PM (#53638375)

          Traditional fridges, with just a compressor and ice box up top, typically go a lot longer. The beer fridge in my shed was bought second hand 30 years ago.

          Modern fridges, with all their complex internal fans and defrost cycles go about 15 years at best. My ice maker is dead, and I just pulled apart some of the internal plumbing to fix a fan which would be beyond most people and not worth the cost of a repair man.

          New fridges with WiFi will go until they die from a bad automated software update. I'd say 8 years. But that will be OK because you will pay by the year that you use it, all controlled by the WiFi.

          It is part of advancing technology.

      • On a slightly related note: I am always surprised (ok, maybe not surprised but annoyed) at how many members of this (ostensibly) "science and tech" news aggregate always seem to be so vehemently against the proliferation of technology into our daily lives.

        It's not a problem of technology per-se but proliferation of technology in inappropriate and dangerous places. There isn't a single value added feature for wifi in a refrigerator. Not one. Putting wifi into it just adds cost and complexity and security problems with no offsetting benefit. Worse, appliance makers have a long and glorious history of building their products as cheaply as possible and not caring about them at all beyond any warranty obligations. Do you seriously think these things will get

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      A lot of us are less worried about what our *own* appliances are doing and how they are set up than they are worried about how *other* appliances are set up. Electronics mindlessly tossing in connectivity makes for potentially larger and larger botnets to wreak havoc on the rest of us.

      Of course, LG determining that computing with internet connectivity is now so cheap that there's no point in ever omitting it is rather a symptom rather than a cause (if they did omit on principle, then the equally cheap inte

    • How convenient for "Internal Security" if every LG fridge, TV, or other appliance is a spy appliance.

      How long before NSA has an exploit?

      How long before your local burglar can get one off a web site, and use it to determine what valuables you have and when you'll be out of the house?

    • It can become one when a hacker walks through the neighborhood, discovers the wi-fi of your refrigerator open , and the next morning you find out that the firmware has changed and now your refrigerator shoots olives and eggs at relativistic speeds against any moving object in the kitchen.
  • by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529&yahoo,com> on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:48AM (#53633255)

    I'm not surprised LG is doing this. Whether it's for raw competitive reasons ("Look Phil! This one has the Wi-Fi and a touchscreen!") or less-than-desirable reasons (acquiring information regarding the use of the product / making it less serviceable by techs without specialized equipment), the fact is that this sort of thing was basically inevitable.

    Whether it's worth caring about depends on whether the devices will perform their intended function without internet access. Sure, some people will find it nifty to have an app notify them when preheating is done or to be able to check that they turned the stove off as they drive away (and turn it off if they didn't), but the real question is whether I'll be required to sign up for an LG account in order to set it to 375 to bake cookies.

    Internet connectivity as a bonus, I'm fine with. Internet connectivity to do the functions that have been served for the last hundred years with a knob...not so much.

  • by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:50AM (#53633275)
    ...threatens to put a Lithium-Ion battery in every appliance!
  • Now I can get malware loaded onto every appliance in my home!
  • LG Boss: That's a nice toaster you got there.... it would be a shame if something were to happen to it.... boys.... you know what to do.

    LG Henchmen: We sure do boss...

    LG Boss: When you are done with the toaster, add wifi to all this junk

    Proprietor: NOOOOOOO!

  • A bleak future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:53AM (#53633297) Journal

    I'm already tech support for my entire family. Now I get to be tech support for their appliances. Every Thanksgiving is going to be "oh, since you're here, can you fix the wifi on the fridge?"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    LG. You whole home can be a botnet now...

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:58AM (#53633335)

    ...to handle the 40+ wireless clients in the house.

  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @10:59AM (#53633339) Homepage
    Just use your hardware firewall to blot it from connecting to the net. It's pretty easy - plus I imagine security won't be 100% on those Lucky Gold Star devices so there's likely an open ssh or like port on the things. Hack away.
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Just use your hardware firewall to blot it from connecting to the net.

      That only works if it's connected by a hardline. If everything is wifi, you only need to drive by and exploit the connection. Hell Bell Canada ships their modem-router combo's using WEP as the default, in some cases the house and street name are the default passwords. Blocking at the router level doesn't mean anything.

      • Well, you're assuming I let the ISP put in a router with wifi attached. I've enough experience to roll my own so to speak, the only concern I have it's all Cisco gear but likely made in China.
    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

      Just use your hardware firewall to blot it from connecting to the net.

      As anybody that lives in Comcast's service area knows, there is a plethora of "Xfinity-Wifi" access points out there. Basically anybody that uses Comcast's router is offering up an open access point for other Comcast customers to use, once connected it requires the user to enter their Comcast credentials to obtain access to the Internet. It isn't that much of a stretch to imagine an agreement between Comcast and LG to allow LG's devices free access to these APs. Your fridge may just jump onto your neighbo

    • *Goldstar. The company is LG, not LGS

  • This will be the difference between an insecure mess and something that just works, as the old appliances used to...

  • by khr ( 708262 )

    Back when I was a college student with an LG mini-fridge in my dorm room I could've used this. At least, if it was smart enough to send me a warning "hey dumbshit, you left a can of pop in the freezer and if you don't get your ass back here soon it's gonna burst and make a blood mess."

  • lots of things i would rather NOT get wifi in, like my refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, oven, washer & dryer, etc... i dont want every home appliance i own connecting to the internet
    • If you don't want your fridge connecting to your WiFi then simply don't give it the password.

      Same with every other home appliance you own, you control their access.

  • God forbid that LG should make a refrigerator that works well, LG is just piling on more and more useless features. Heck, they cannot even make a reliable ice maker that doesn't occupy 1/4 of the refrigerator and freezer volume. To make things worse, all of those screens in the doors just increase the heat load on the cooling system---even after making the door ridiculously thick to accommodate the screen and extra insulation. So, how do they want to improve the products? By adding WiFi. Brilliant!

  • It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all to be able to let some device or app in my world slurp up information about how much power the fridge is using, squawk if the door's been left open or something has failed, etc. If the compressor is running longer or harder than usual or the icemaker is reporting a jam or water flowing in an unusual way - getting an SMS message from my home network about something like that while I'm out of the house could actually head of a real mess. But all of that can be done via a we
    • far better to NOT use any wireless by default. Instead have an ethernet with POE. If customers/builder wants, they simply put a unit on the end (wifi, z-wave, blue-tooth), that pulls the power from the POE. This makes it so that smart ppl are not broadcasting, but if somebody is dumb enough to broadcast, then at least they can get hardware updates down the road which are different or updated protocols with updated unit..
  • Seriously, I think that a wired Ethernet would be better than WiFi. Wifi is too easy to pick up on. Then have a plug that can be put in that use POE to power a small wifi to broadcast if wanted.
  • Seriously, are they doing ransomware, where we have to pay LG to NOT connect?
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @12:20PM (#53634115)

    My wife asked me why I carried my gun around the house.

    "Decepticons", I replied.

    She laughed. I laughed. The toaster laughed. I shot the toaster.

  • And I blame E.T. for starting it all.

  • ...has a ton of pull with major manufacturers. Yes, make billions of insecure devices we can run botnets from, please.

    I don't want a smart TV. I want a 'smart' appliance of any other type even less.

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