A recent study shows that software attacks cause Millions of Christmas trees to go dark each year (Claus, 2022). Since many people believe that trees cannot be breached, they tend to find themselves in a false sense of security that too often leaves them exposed.
In this article, I want to show you why fuzzing is the right method to protect your Christmas tree against malicious software attacks while turning it into a video game console.
Christmas Trees Can Actually Be Hacked
Christmas trees (especially those put up by geeks) are often decorated with smart lights that are connected to Wi-Fi. Vulnerabilities in such hardware can serve as an entry point for attackers who would rather spend Christmas maliciously exploiting unsuspecting tree owners than with their families.
How easily such vulnerabilities can be exploited became clear in a 2018 study, in which security researchers managed to completely shut down Christmas decorations remotely. In other instances, IoT devices were hacked over the cloud and even set on fire (Christmas lights should be safe though. Their voltage is usually not controllable via software).
But don’t worry. There is a way to prevent all this. Here are three reasons why you should fuzz your Christmas tree:
1. Attackers Might Exfiltrate Your Data Through Your Christmas Tree
Theoretically, skillful intruders could access your Christmas tree decorations by exploiting a vulnerability, e.g. a Buffer Overflow that allows them to gain control of the application’s diode. From there on, attackers could gain access to all of your systems through the air gap. Although similar attacks have been accomplished, such a breach is admittedly something you would more likely see in a Christmas-themed action movie than IRL. Still better to be safe than sorry.
2. Prevent Downtimes and Outages
Fuzzing can not only help you test for security vulnerabilities, but also for stability and reliability issues. The line between these two can often be blurry anyways. By fuzzing your Christmas tree decorations, you can prevent outages and downtime and ensure that your tree will stay lit throughout the entire holiday season.
3. Play Cool Games on Your Tree
If you hack into your Christmas tree decorations yourself, you can reprogram them in a way that allows you to play snake and other classic video games on your tree. This way, fuzzing your Christmas tree can help you ensure that you won’t get bored over the holiday season.
Fuzz Your Christmas Tree ASAP!
If you aren't familiar with fuzzing yet, the holiday season is a great time to get acquainted. To make it easy for all developers to start fuzzing their first projects, we built a CI Fuzz CLI, an open-source fuzzer that integrates into common dev tools in Java and C/C++ (more languages coming soon). CI Fuzz allows you to fuzz your own code using a few commands on your CLI or IDE. In Java, it even intgerates into JUnit, allowing you to call a fuzz test using @FuzzTest.
If you want to use CI Fuzz CLI to secure private or commercial systems against vulnerabilities or simply to play retro games on your Christmas decorations is up to you. If you have any questions, reach me on Twitter @joshin4colours.