Published in IoT

LG's smart washer has dirty secret

by on17 January 2024

It goes online and uploads gigabytes of data

An LG washing machine owner was shocked that his smart home gadget uploaded a whopping 3.66GB of data daily.

According to Tom’s Hardware, the owner cut the washing machine off the net and blocked it using his router UI.

One day, the device uploaded 3.57GB and downloaded about 100MB, and the data traffic was non-stop. Meanwhile, according to the owner’s Asus router interface screenshot, the washing machine used up nearly five per cent of his internet traffic daily.

The LG washing machine owner thought it was funny and joked that the device might use Wi-Fi for "DLCs (Downloadable Laundry Cycles)."

He wasn't joking: The machine does download presets for different types of clothes. But most of the data transferred was uploaded.

The owner wondered if someone was using his washing machine for crypto mining.

"I'd happily rent our LPU (Laundry Processing Unit) by the hour," he said.

Another social media user noted a history of hackers taking over LG smart-connected appliances. The SmartThinQ home appliances HomeHack flaw was fixed several weeks after being made public.

A similar new hack might use the washing machine's computer power as part of a botnet. Taking over an LG washing machine as part of a big botnet for cryptocurrency mining or dodgy networking purposes wouldn't be crazy. Large numbers of low-power devices can be robust together.

One of the more harmless theories about the vast data uploads suggested laundry data was being uploaded to LG so it could improve its LLM (Large Laundry Model). The owner joked that it wanted to do this to prepare for the launch of its latest "AI washer-dryer combo" at CES.

For now, it looks like the best answer to the data mystery is to blame Asus for getting it wrong. In a follow-up post a day after his first tweet, Johnie said there was "inaccuracy in the ASUS router tool" about Apple iMessage data use.

Other LG smart washing machine users showed device data from their router UIs. It turns out that these appliances usually use less than 1MB per day.

We may never know what happened with the owner, who is now running his LG washing machine offline, and his socks can be keep a secret.

Last modified on 17 January 2024
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