Faulty firmware OTA update bricked hundreds of LockState smart locks

Pierluigi Paganini August 16, 2017

Some models of LockState smart locks also used by AirBnB customers were bricked by an OTA firmware update leaving guests unable to access their rentals.

At the last Black Hat hacker conference, security experts demonstrated how to hack electronic locks, and the news I’m going to tell you demonstrates how annoying could be an incident to occurred to hundreds of smart locks.

While the number of IoT devices continues to increase, several times we questioned about the necessity to connect to the Internet objects that we ordinary use, such as a home appliance.

Last week, nearly hundreds of Internet-connected locks stopped working after a faulty software update.

The problem affected some models of remotely accessible smart locks manufactured by the US company LockState. Many users have complained that their Lockstate 6000i electronic locks started to fail from last Monday, following the firmware update, the built-in keypad was useless.

The LockState’s RemoteLock 6i (6000i) leverages the home Wi-Fi network to implement remote control and firmware updates. According to the colleagues at THN, LockState is also partner with Airbnb, Airbnb users have chosen these specific IoT devices to give their guests entry code in order to get into hotel properties without using physical keys.

Many Airbnb customers were not able to use the built-in keypad on the smart lock devices to unlock the doors.

smart locks LockState

LockState confirmed the problem was caused by a faulty OTA firmware update issued last week that caused a “fatal error” in the smart locks, following the incident the devices are unable to reconnect to the company’s web servers, this means that is is impossible to fix the problem with a new OTA update.

The experts explained that the problems were caused by the distribution to the to 6000i family of the firmware intended for 7000i model smart locks.

According to the company, about 500 locks have been affected

“Your lock is among a small subset of locks that had a fatal error rendering it inoperable,” reads an email sent by LockState to affected customers. “After a software update was sent to your lock, it failed to reconnect to our web service making a remote fix impossible.”
Affected consumers have the following two options:
  1. Users have to remove the back flap of the smart lock and send it to LockState that will apply a manual update, it is a time-consuming activity that will take 5-7 working days.
  2. Users can ask for a replacement lock, which will take 14-18 days to ship, and then send the faulty model back to LockState.

LockState assured it will cover all shipping costs for the affected smart locks and will also provide one year of free service for the LockState Connect Portal, that is a subscription-based service which allows full remote control of all compatible smart home devices.

“We will pay for the shipping of your lock both to LockState and the return back to you within the continental US.  We will also be providing you with 1 year of free service for the LockState Connect Portal for these locks” states the email.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – LockState, smart locks)

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