“WTF! Why is my LG Washing Machine using 3.6GB of data/day?” This was an X user’s reaction after discovering the obscure behavior of his appliance. The post, viewed more than 17 million times, quickly turned into a controversy and a meme. But the explanation might be simple – and rather boring.
A user on X named Johnie posted a graph revealing that his LG Washing Machine was consistent in sending more than 150 megabytes of data each hour with few fluctuations.
He used an Asus router with advanced monitoring tools to discover the issue. Johnie noted that the “rogue process” likely used the same port as iMessage (5223).
“There were gigabytes of data being uploaded from the IP address of the washer. I have segregated this device to its own network and logging data usage. I have yet to hear from LG on how to reset/update the firmware or how to fix the rogue washing machine,” another Johnie’s post reads.
He believes that the washing machine was powered off, as it should automatically turn off when non-active.
“Ended up blocking it on my router”
Disconnecting the washing machine from the Wi-Fi was unsuccessful as it wouldn’t let the user remove the Wi-Fi configuration, only change it to another Wi-Fi.
Johnie had to tinker with his router settings to block the device from the internet, decreasing its data usage.
“Sorry if you were using my washing machine for bitcoin mining. But I'd gladly rent our LPU (Laundry Processing Unit) by the hour,” Johnie joked.
The idea of washing machines sending vast amounts of data quickly turned into a meme on social media. Some X users noted that most people don’t even know if their devices misbehave as they rarely track their home internet usage.
Others feared that appliances were mining data from owners to use it for AI training or targeted advertising. They shared the recent LG statement on the utilization of data from millions of household devices to make AI-based software more useful.
“People just don't understand how much data they use when hand washing clothes, sloshing gigabytes down the drain... modern appliances are highly efficient, a lot of those bits just circulate between the laundry and the router to cool down between wash cycles”, another X user posted.
Johnie himself joked that the LG washing machine needs WiFi for “DLCs,” aka “Downloadable Laundry Cycles.”
“First, it was video games, then Teslas, now washing machines. I wouldn’t be surprised if washing machines start microtransactions,” he posted. “Buy 100 gold tokens for the speed cycle power up.”
Three main suspects: a hack, a bug, or a technical fault
Cybernews has reached out to LG for a possible explanation but is yet to receive a response. In the meantime, the likely culprit of the issue was speculated by napkin-math experts on social media.
One possible simple explanation may be an external breach or a hack. LG devices are connected to the home automation and control app SmartThinQ. In 2017, researchers at Check Point discovered a vulnerability enabling remote attackers to take control of accounts and connected devices.
“My guess it was being used either to send spam emails or to launch DDOS attacks. These are the only two reasons I can think of for massive outbound traffic and very mild inbound traffic,” one user speculated.
Cybersecurity experts have told Cybernews that they avoid internet-connected smart IoT devices, mainly for security reasons, as hacking such devices also introduces physical dangers.
Another possible explanation may be a hardware or software fault constantly transmitting diagnostic data on the loop.
“If these devices are designed to upload ‘automatic diagnostic reports’ to a central tracker, it's possible this machine is stuck in a failure state that is generating massive amounts of error logs,” one user on the Hacker News forum posted. “A program running on a 480 megahertz microcontroller can quite reasonably crash a million times a second; even a single 80-character error log line would be 80 megabytes per second or 7 terabytes per day.”
An X user noted that the washing machine’s software may be constantly checking for updates when an error occurs.
LG washing machine users also shared that their devices usually use less than 1 Mb of data daily, confirming the theory that Johnie’s device may have been malfunctioning.
More from Cybernews:
Subscribe to our newsletter