Toilet Hacking

A Japanese toilet manufacturer has found that their high-tech models are susceptible to hackers...
08 August 2013


Dominic - Now Hannah, I hear toilets have been on your mind this week.Japenese Toilet Control

Hannah - Toilets are always on my mind, Dominic, as they are on everybody's mind, everybody uses a toilet, every day, I would assume. Now, the Japanese company Lixil have produced a particular toilet called the Satis toilet which is very satisfactory for its customers usually. Now, it's got a range of different applications for this toilet and different kind of modularities. So for example, you can press a button and some nice soothing music will come out as you relax and do your business or you can even use different functionalities. So for example, you can have a deep cleanser or a more relaxing light cleanser in your B-day functionality of your toilet. Now, these Satis toilets actually retail for 3,800 pounds. That's about $5,500 and they're just available in Japan.

Dominic - There's a problem, I gather.

Hannah - There is a problem and this has been reported on the BBC News recently. So, the Japanese love their technology and usually, you can actually automate all of these different music, fragrance releasing and cleansing programmes within your Satis toilet, just using your Smartphone app. So, at a swipe of a button, you can turn certain things on or off as you do your business. Now unfortunately, the pre-programmed security preset for this application is '0000' and the majority of customers haven't changed that preset which means that neighbours have been going in and causing flushing and inspirational water release in the B-day system for their unexpectant neighbours whilst they're sitting on a toilet or doing other business, or anything. So basically, the toilets are being controlled by hackers.

Dominic - Could be quite a surprise at the wrong moment, I guess.

Hannah - Exactly, it could be a surprise at the wrong moment. So, not a great thing. This story is quite entertaining in some ways, but I think what it really highlights is that for example, in telephone hacking, so this has been happening in the last couple of years, there has been journalists that have been able to hack into people's telephones. That's for the same reason that there's this preset security code that the majority of people don't change. It's important that people have high security pass codes for banking for example or telephones and then maybe low security passwords for their toilet facilities. And don't just use your date of birth or something that could be guessed from anyone that gets information on lifestyle questionnaires for example or from your local supermarket, but try to use more complicated and less obvious security pass codes.

Dominic - We're all told when we're picking passwords for computers or pin numbers for the bank that we need a very secure code. How common is it that these systems to be hacked by insecure codes?

Hannah - It really easily can happen to people. This isn't the first time that this particular thing has happened with this kind of preset '0000' security code. So, in the 1960s, apparently, there's been various reports that the USA set the unlock code for their missiles, their nuclear missiles as 4 times zero, in order to prevent slowing down the release of nuclear if they were suddenly attacked. Now fortunately, they weren't hacked. So, this kind of thing can happen and just be careful really.

Dominic - And I guess there's also a responsibility there for companies like banks to make sure that we're using secure codes. 


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