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Restoring Your IoT Device Before Selling It Is Not Enough, Researchers Find


Illustration of an article called Resetting an IoT Device Before Selling It Is Not Enough, Researchers Find

Figure: Victoria Song / Gizmodo

As IoT tools such as the Amazon Echo proliferate, it is not uncommon for users to resell. In fact, it is very common to meet them on eBay or even a temporary sale of a court. Amazon suggests that, when users are done with a product, they factory reset the device so as to erase any personal information stored within it before sending it back out into the world.

However, it would appear that simply resetting your device won’t actually expunge that data from the face of the Earth and that reselling your device could hypothetically lead to your old information getting boosted.

Investigators and Northeast University recently spent 16 months buying and renovating buildings 86 used Amazon Echo Dot tools to try to understand any flaws they may have.

After grabbing them from eBay and twisting markets, the study team separated their equipment and analyzed its components, in order to better understand how they work.

Their initial discovery may be surprising: many Echo users who resold their weapons had never considered re-establishing them, the study says. As a result, most of their older models rely solely on the device, and searchers can easily access items such as old wifi notifications, Amazon account history, and MAC router addresses.

The rehabilitators, however, had not yet removed the tires as they thought they would. Researchers have found that, contrary to Amazon’s policy, there is still a limit to the number of confidential information stored on factory repair kits. The reason for this is related to how these tools store your file of more using NAND flash memory – a repository that, for some reason, does not erase when the device has been restarted.

“We show that secrets, including all passwords and past symbols, remain memorable, even after a factory reset. This is due to the robust alignment of memory and the lack of confidentiality,” the researchers wrote. “An adversary who can use such devices (for example, buy used ones) can access private information such as Wi-Fi, pre-existing location, and cyber-tools (for example, cameras, doors).”

Of course, hackers need to know what they’re doing – and data theft may involve some expertise. The researchers had to remove the entire instrument and then erase its memory, before using another tool to extract the glitter. The whole process takes about 20 to 30 minutes if you know what you are doing, researchers added.

In response to our request, Amazon said:

“The security of our weapons is paramount. We appreciate the work of independent investigators who help us get in trouble, and we are also working on other mitigation measures to get our equipment. We encourage customers to register their names and reset their equipment before reselling, replacing, or discarding it. It is not possible to retrieve the passwords of Amazon accounts or prepaid debit cards, as these are not stored on devices. ”

Ah, all right.

While the ability of an expert in security work to hide your information through your old Echo seems pointless, directing people as a first step in entering larger networks are common.

However, while it is not the most difficult way to consume your data, it is an example of how these tools — which make people who use their devices — not the real barriers. The data is just there and the right person with the right information can access it without spending a lot of money.


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