I got a text message from my wife yesterday that there was a whole lot of beeping coming from upstairs and she hoped that nothing was broken. We’ve got rolling blackouts going on with the electrical service, a heat wave where the temp was 101F/38.3C at my house, my wife works sometimes from home up there as well, and I’ve got basically a datacenter running that is really worrisome.
TL;DR – story of connected tech, open controls, tracking down what happened.
I asked her to investigate, things seemed normal to her. Trying to discover what the beeps sounded like was useless. Just beeps…. not beepity beepity beepity, nor beeeeeep…. beeeeeeeep… doesn’t help. Basically I got Bing’d by my wife – something was wrong, don’t know.
I jumped in and looked to check out my Sense Energy Monitor / see if there had been a power outage. Nope. Did not appear to be any gap more than a minute in the timeline (and if the power flicks for a second or two I see a 5 minute break.)
What I noticed from the energy monitor report was that there was very little electric usage. There was my computer and then about 200 watts of other stuff. That, in a heat wave, not a good sign. I have a split unit upstairs which keeps the data center at the right temp, and a central unit that handles the main floor. Neither were running.
I texted my wife asking if the upstairs AC was working and was told it was. It wasn’t.
Jumping into the Google Home app, where I control about infinity things between home and work, I noticed that a large number of smart plugs at home were shut down. I checked and one had been shut down via voice. A friend of my kiddos had yelled “ok google shutdown google” and Google had obliged shutting down a switch that was named something like “google Hub and equipment in basement.” This was quite a bit before the main event however.
Various smart outlets had been turned on or off around the time that the beeping was heard, and at this point I highly suspected I was not dealing with hardware failure, but a malicious actor.
My main work, having been the target of a ransomware group twice before, I figured that if hackers were attacking my house everything would be dead and I wouldn’t have been able to access anything, so I turned to a little more investigation. No really, if someone breaks into my Googles, I suspect the war is already lost.
The upstairs AC was off or set too high. I turned it back on. The downstairs AC was off. Outlets throughout the house were on or off. I managed to get the logs from one of the air conditioner control units (the Cielo Breez) and saw this lovely screen:
Pages of temperature control changes within the same hour. I suspected the 6yo, and basically have a signed confession from the 6yo. It was the 6yo. The Nest Hub Max that Google’s PR was kind enough to send over was unfortunately placed at an area she could access, and home controls were not locked down.
When I got home I asked if she’d messed with the thing and she said yes. I don’t take this as a real confession because I’ve asked her if she popped a tire or fought a bear and she’s said yes before. But I did ask if she’d been playing with it and she said she didn’t know what she was doing but had kept hitting buttons because they would change color. Sounds about right. It looked cool. I dig it.
I asked her not to do this again because it could mess up my equipment upstairs, and she agreed. She can still talk to the Google Hub Max, I’m not locking down home controls (although I am going to research it for if her friends come over again,) and that’s about that.
So yeah, consider locking down home controls… and if you’re wondering what home controls on a Nest Hub are you probably haven’t touched your Nest Hub screen in a while – swipe up, it’s a tablet now.