Wink smart hubs knocked offline, require fix after borked security update


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The downside of smart homes has become painfully clear to some Wink owners, whose systems got knocked offline over the weekend.

Wink traced the issue to an expired security certificate, which prevented some Wink Hubs from connecting to the company’s servers, according to Engadget. As a result, users couldn’t control their Hub-dependent devices from the Wink app, and all scheduled functions failed to work.

The good news is that most users can fix the issue themselves, though the repair requires connecting with a DNS server to download an update, then reverting back to the router’s original settings. Anyone who isn’t comfortable doing so can alternatively send their Hubs back to Wink for repair. Instructions are available on Wink’s website.

The bad news, at least for Wink, is that the issue also affects Hubs that are sitting on store shelves. The company has recalled those products and expects to resume sales later this week.

In an email to customers, Wink said it’s “terribly embarrassed by this whole situation,” which was “completely preventable and caused by a security measure that was put in place to protect you and your family.” To make things right, the company is offering customers a $50 gift card for Wink’s online store.

Why this matters: This is exactly the kind of situation that creates smart home skeptics, but what it should really do is raise concerns around a couple of specific concepts. First, it stresses the need for local network controls, so that basic commands still work without an Internet connection. And as better networking standards emerge, the devices themselves should be less reliant on a centralized hub that could bring down the entire system. Until then, mishaps like the one that affected Wink users are going to happen.

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