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Here we present a quick teardown of the Lidl Smart Home Gateway and a quick introduction to gaining access to the Linux root shell of the device.
This device is plesantly "hackable," and gaining access to the device to load custom firmware and modifications is easy. (once you have physical access.) As a general point I think this is how it should always be. An electronic device that is totally locked down to the manufacturer provides no opportunites for further use and thus its potential for education, entertainment and utility beyond what the original manufacturer forsaw is lost.
One of the aspirations for this project is to turn this device into a simple ZigBee gateway, capable of running basic functions (light switches, etc) autonomously in offline mode but also supporting an online mode integrated with Home Assistant. If I have time I will develop this but no promises!
You can use this hack to directly integrate this gateway with Home Assistant.. Click the link for more information.
The home gateway uses a screwless design to hold the case together. There are 8 plastic clips spread equally around the case and you need to work carefully around about half of them until you can separate the lid from the case.
Inside the gateway there's a single PCB featuring a main CPU, some RAM, an SPI flash chip, a separate ZigBee CPU, ethernet magnetics, LEDs, connectors and other supporting components. A neat design overall.
The manufacturer has kindly labelled the test points. An image is available here
When starting the device, the bootloader is accessible by pressing ESC on the console very early on in the boot process. Doing this will stop the boot process and land you in the RealTek bootloader prompt.
Entering a ?, followed by enter will list out the available commands. Available features include the ability to read and write the FLASH, download from a TFTP server into memory, and inspect memory.
The bootloader has a default IP address of 192.168.1.6 and the TFTP server is set to 192.168.1.97.
The bootlog helpfully shows the flash layout as follows:
0x000000000000-0x000000020000 : "boot+cfg" 0x000000020000-0x000000200000 : "linux" 0x000000200000-0x000000400000 : "rootfs" 0x000000400000-0x000000420000 : "tuya-label" 0x000000420000-0x000001000000 : "jffs2-fs"
It's always a good idea to backup devices, where possible, before playing around. To do this, rather than desolder the SPI, we created a script to repeatedly call the FLR and DB commands and we used that to create a backup copy of the flash. It took a long time for the script to run but it was overnight so we didn't care.
We extracted the SquashFS blob and replaced the /etc/passwd symlink with a passwd file we created with a known root password.
We recreated the SquashFS blob, modified the header to include the new length, fixed up the 16-bit checksum on the end, and used the bootloader's TFTP command to load the new SquashFS into memory followed by the FLW command to write it to flash.
After booting up, we were able to log into the device as root. Win.
Attaching an ARM debugger to pins 5 and 6 of J1 allows inspection and live debugging of the ZigBee module CPU and backing up the code if required. We used a Segger J-Link Edu Mini whih supports this part directly.
The actual root password is set, each time the device boots, to the last 8 characters of the device's "auzkey". Running "/tuya/tuyamtd read auzkey" on the device will tell you this value. You can also read this value straight out of flash using this technique..
The device runs an SSH server (dropbear) on port 2333. The server has some brute force protection whereby failed logins will cause the device to stop this server for an increasing amount of time. The device has to be left switched on for the anti-brute force timer to expire because the failure counter is stored persistently in the flash. If you already have filesystem access, you can reset this prematurely by deleting the /tuya/ssh/cnt file.