Philips Hue Bridge suddenly started sending gigabytes of data to Internet

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  • Updated 2 months ago
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Posting a cautionary note (and curious if anyone else has observed this behavior).  Over the past 24-48 hours, my Internet usage with Viasat suddenly went through the roof -- hitting 38 gigabytes in just a little over 24 hours.  I'm on the Freedom plan and I've never gone past 30 gigabytes in a month, even with a house full of smart devices and security cams that I occasionally connect to remotely.

When I noticed the extreme usage, I fired up the Traffic Analyzer on my router and was able to identify the culprit: a second-generation Philips Hue bridge. When the Hue bridge is connected to Ethernet, my router shows outgoing traffic ranging from 250 KB/s to 1 MB/s, non-stop.  When I unplug the Ethernet cable from the back of the Hue Bridge, the outgoing traffic immediately drops back down to normal levels (on average less than 10 KB/s.) I tried this experiment several times.  Plugging in the Hue Bridge caused a surge in network activity within a minute or two; disconnecting it immediately caused it to drop.

My logs show that this surge in activity began sometime within the past couple days.  Before then network activity was normal.  I've had this Hue Bridge connected to Ethernet for at least two years and have never noticed this issue before.

It's pretty alarming to blow past 38 gigabytes in one day.  I'm glad I checked my usage and noticed this. It would have reached 150 (I'm on the Freedom plan) within the next couple days and I'm not sure what would have happened then.

Has anyone else noticed something like this before?  My main two theories right now are that (a) Philips pushed out a buggy software update (looks like they may have issued a firmware update for the Hue Bridge about a week ago), or (b) that the Hue Bridge somehow got hacked (which seems unlikely, but not unthinkable; I've never configured Hue for remote access and only had it connected to my network via Ethernet so I could program it with the iPad app).  Perhaps I'm missing some other explanation.

For now I'll leave the Hue Bridge disconnected.  If you have a Hue Bridge connected to the Internet, you might want to keep an eye on it.
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Mathew Smith

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Posted 9 months ago

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Steve Frederick-VS1/Beam314, Champion

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It could be that your Hue has been infected with a virus or spyware. I would try to go to the factory configuration by doing a complete reset, it it is possible, then do any configuration it might need to operate your devices.
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wm4bama, Champion

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Stephen Rice, Champion

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I would let Viasat know by sending them an email. They may have other customers experiencing the same problem and might know of a solution. It's a long shot, but you might even get a courtesy credit for reporting the issue with a 3rd party device.
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Frank

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Hi, I would like to confirm the problem. It is similar for me. I noticed gigabytes of traffic, sometimes 50 GB per day. It’s back to normal since I blocked the traffic to the bridge. What is behind this?
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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I would first ask Phillips who does the Hue brand to see and rule out if a update was pushed through or not. I did a lot of research for one of our blog posts (https://corpblog.viasat.com/keeping-an-eye-on-the-data-usage-of-all-those-smart-home-devices/)  on smart home devices which included smart bulbs and it seemed pretty much across the board that they usually top out around 50-60mb per month for updates and whatnot so this is a massive jump. 

I'm certainly a fan of smart home devices and have been playing with them but I only have the smart-plug setup for my living room lamp as lighting goes and haven't jumped to the bulbs route just yet.  My guess is a update by Phillips that either launched a few times or used a lot of data. Certainly worth keeping an eye on. 
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Mathew Smith

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Frank: I never did determine what was causing the issue, and like you, I ended up putting the Hue Bridge in a "penalty box" and configured my router so the bridge could no longer make connections outside the LAN to the Internet.  Unfortunately, that has the side effect of clock drift -- since it's no longer able to connect to a network time server, it loses track of time (especially when the power goes out), which makes scheduled events challenging.  The entire firmware on the Hue Bridge doesn't approach anywhere near the amount of data it was trying to use, so the most innocent explanation is that they occasionally have runaway updates that get stuck in an infinite loop.  It also seems that some smart home devices aren't expecting the high latency of satellite internet, and possibly get stuck in a loop trying to re-request packets, or are just unable to connect to cloud-based services.

Brad: I have the Freedom Plan.  If a device goes haywire like that and suddenly causes my 150 GB to get eaten in a day or two, what happens?  Will my service get severely throttled through the end of the billing period, or will it shut off completely?
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Oliver

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it all depends how busy your beam is how much you get put behind other users.
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Frank

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Hi Mathew, many thanks for your answer. @Brad: also many thanks for your answer, but with all due respect I’m talking about gigabytes here and not megabytes.

I will try one of these days getting the bridge back on line and monitoring the traffic.

Just FYI, I’m from Germany and I use Unitymedia which is a local cable provider. I have 150/50 MBit connection. I hope I’m not intruding.
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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I fully understood the usage you were referring to which is why I said it's a massive jump. I think you might want to contact Phillips about it to see if they pushed any updates recently and to check your router settings
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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I still don't know if this is significant but there was a October update

October 3, 2018

Firmware 1809121051 (Bridge V2) 

  •  Hotfix to resolve some connectivity changes to cloud