Is your toilet bowl vulnerable?

Have we arrived at that point in our culture where the invasion of our privacy has finally reached into the inner sanctum of our personal space? That veritable ivory tower of solitude? Yes, I’m talking about the bathroom, the lou, the john, or – as our friends over the pond call it – the WC. Well my friends, I regret to inform you that, yes, we have arrived.

Take a moment to enjoy the peculiarity of these headlines from various media outlets over the last few days:

Bluetooth-enabled Toilets Can be Hacked Through Android App (Dailytech.com)

Bluetooth Exploit for Japanese Toilet Brings New Meaning to the Word “Vulnerability” (androidpolice.com)

And, my personal favorite:

‘Smart toilet’ users in Japan could become victim to Bluetooth bidet attacks and stealthy seat closing (UK Daily Mail)

Now, let’s for a moment put aside the gnawing question of why in the name of all that is good and bountiful, humankind could possibly need a bluetooth-enable “smart toilet”, and rather focus on the more urgent fact that here we have something entirely new and utterly unique in human history: a “bidet attack”. A pairing of words and concepts that I assure you the most malevolent among us would never have contrived to put together.

What exactly is a bidet attack, you might ask? Or for that matter, a stealthy seat closing? The mind reels, does it not?

Allow me to enlighten.

Laxii – one of Japan’s largest toilet manufacturers – produces a smart toilet called Satis which does many nifty things to elevate your personal hygiene experience, not the least of which are front and rear bidet-style undercarriage sprayers and companion air dryers, in-bowl mood lighting, mechanized lid open & close, and, naturally, built-in stereo speakers to stream music from your smart-phone – God forbid you miss a few minutes of your fave Taylor Swift track while doing your business. And to ensure that you quite literally never have to get your hands dirty, they produced (naturally) a Bluetooth connected app enabling you to perform such mundane tasks as lifting the lid or launching an ass-wash while not having to tear your eyes away from Facebook for more than a second or two.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, there’s a snag.

It seems the pointy heads over at Laxii, while in the cerebral frenzy of forging a brave new world in which one would never again have to debase oneself by lifting a toilet seat, didn’t think it necessary to have any kind of security on the pairing of the commode with the smartphone. To them the hard-coded Bluetooth PIN of 0000 was perfectly acceptable. And certainly no one would ever be within Bluetooth range of a smart-closet than the rightful owner and user, right?

I mean, what kind of person would knowingly connect their smartphone to a neighbor’s commode? What kind of thrill could unexpectedly blow-drying someone’s cheeks, or clam-shelling the lid on them as they sit down, possibly provide for any hormone imbalanced, techno-savvy teen? Or tweener, or thirty-something male, or…well…I’d do it!

One of my favorite lines from the Daily Mail articles reads: “[Company] therefore believes that this could leave toilet users open to attacks by mischievous technophiles“.

So, here we are, in the golden age. Living the dream. And yet a sentence like the above can actually exist. It is a sad, yet ironically amusing, day my friends. Our most private retreat has been compromised. The inner keep of our personal castles, breached! And for what? The relentless pursuit of less effort, of less personal involvement in one’s environment, of increasing buffers between us and interaction with the real world.

As much as the idea of a good ass-wash-and-blow-dry appeals to me, I have to respectfully decline membership in this brave new world.

Thanks, but I’ll wipe.

One comment

  1. Next thing you will see is a digital display on the toilet which tells you the code to pair your blue tooth!

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