It Now Appears Possible to Hack a (Fancy, Japanese) Toilet

These are the dangers of putting computers in objects that did not used to have computers.
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This bidet plays music, deodorizes, relaxes, and IT CAN BE HACKED. (LAXIL)

O, woe! Beware, you prophets! Beware, you men of ideas, aloft in metropolitan skyscrapers, believing yourself apart, aloof, immune! There are invaders in your home, invaders on your tail, invaders in the last place you would think to look.

For, yesterday, we learned that toilets can be hacked. 

The information security company Trustwave Holdings published an advisory regarding Satis-brand toilets. Satis are a top-of-the-line product of LAXIL, one of Japan's largest commode companies, and they're advertised in the US with the tagline "SATIS defines toilet innovation."

And indeed! How innovative they definitionally are. For not only does the commode sport a broad set of features standard in Nipponese toilets -- deodorizing capabilities, an automatic seat, a two nozzle bidet spray -- but also it can be controlled by an Android app.

A globalized, mobile-ready bidet for the app economy! Thomas Crapper smiles somewhere. The Satis seemed to symbolize a fit of defecation disruption as never before seen, such that Fast Company noted its arrival last December, asking "is [a toilet that can be controlled by a small computer which you sometimes hold next to your mouth] something that U.S. manufacturers should be looking at?"

Well, maybe, but they shouldn't take info-security lessons from Satis. According to Trustwave, every Satis toilet has the same hard-coded Bluetooth PIN, which means "any person using the 'My Satis' [Android] application can control any Satis toilet."

The advisory continues:

As such, any person using the My Satis application can control any Satis
toilet. An attacker could simply download the My Satis application and
use it to cause the toilet to repeatedly flush, raising the water usage and
therefore utility cost to its owner. Attackers could cause the unit to unexpectedly open/close the lid, activate bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to user.

Satis' better mousetrap, become a literal trap. Discomfort and distress, the plight of our time. These are the dangers of putting computers in objects that did not used to have computers.

Presented by

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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