from the internet-of-things-that-shouldn't-need-internet dept.
The app and servers are dead. The CEO scrubbed his LinkedIn page. No one is responding.
The entire company seems to have abruptly shut down just before the weekend, breaking users' cloud-dependent smart-home setups without warning. Users say the service has been down for three days now despite the company status page saying, "All Services Online." The company forums are down, and no one is replying to users on social media.
[....] Insteon is (or, more likely, "was") a smart home company that produced a variety of Internet-connected lights, thermostats, plugs, sensors, and of course, the Insteon Hub. At the core of the company was Insteon's propriety networking protocol, which was a competitor to more popular and licensable alternatives like Z-Wave and Zigbee.
[....] With its servers down, the Insteon app appears worthless, and users' automations and schedules have stopped working. Many of Insteon's wall switches were actual electrical switches, so the worst that will ever happen is that they become dumb switches.
Every dark internet cloud has a cat 6 lining. This isn't as bad as cloud connected pet feed fooders no longer working. Or cloud connected exercise machines not working or restricting features with new pay walls. Or Smart TVs spying on you and displaying ads during a live sporting event.
Smart home company Insteon and its parent company, Smartlabs Inc., suddenly disappeared last week. In what will probably be remembered as one of the most notorious smart home shutdowns ever, Insteon decided to turn off its cloud servers without giving customers any warning at all, surprise-bricking many smart home devices that relied on the Insteon cloud.
[...] Insteon has finally updated its website (archive here) and pinned a goodbye message to the top of every page a full week after its surprise liquidation. The statement—which is not attributed to anyone—says that the company is going out of business because of the pandemic and supply chain problems. The company looked for a buyer but couldn't find one.
The statement reads, in part:
In 2019, the onset of the global pandemic brought unforeseen disruption to the market, but the company continued to move forward. However, the subsequent (and enduring) disruption to the supply chain caused by the pandemic proved incredibly difficult and the company engaged in a sales process in November, 2021. The goal was to find a parent for the company and continue to invest in new products and the technology. The process resulted in several interested parties, and a sale was expected to be realized in the March timeframe. Unfortunately, that sale did not materialize. Consequently, the company was assigned to a financial services firm in March to optimize the assets of the company.
[...] Insteon ends its statement by saying, "We hope that the Insteon community understands the tireless efforts by all the employees to serve our customers, and [we] deeply apologize to the community."
Previous Story: Insteon Looks Dead—Just Like its Users' Smart Homes
The Internet of things — aka the tendency to bring Internet connectivity to devices whether they need them or not — has provided no shortage of both tragedy and comedy. "Smart" locks that are easy to bypass, "smart" fridges that leak your email credentials, or even "smart" barbies that spy on toddlers are all pretty much par for the course in an industry with lax privacy and security standards.
Even your traditional hot tub isn't immune from the stupidity. Hot tub vendor SmartTub thought it might be nice to control your hot tub from your phone (because walking to the tub and quickly turning a dial is clearly too much to ask).
But like so many IOT vendors more interested in the marketing potential than the reality, they allegedly implemented it without including basic levels of security standards for their website administration panel, allowing hackers to access and control hot tubs, all over the planet. And not just SmartTub brands, but numerous brands from numerous manufacturers, everywhere [. . . .]
For those who need reminders, let us not forget prior SN (horror) stories:
- IoT Pet feeders that stop feeding pets
- Peloton treadmills
- Insteon smart home lighting and other controls
- Smart male chastity devices that won't unlock, need metal grinder to remove