Are You Watching TV Or Is It Watching You

It’s not enough that we need to worry about the security cameras installed on every other telephone pole, street sign and office building – NOW we need to check the TV sets in our living rooms.

Today’s high-end televisions are almost all equipped with “smart” PC-like features, including Internet connectivity, apps, microphones and cameras. But a recently discovered security hole in some Samsung Smart TVs shows that many of those bells and whistles aren’t ready for prime time.

The research was conducted on different models of 2012 Samsung Smart TVs and was presented this week at the Black Hat cyber security conference in Las Vegas.

In a formal statement, Samsung said it takes user safety very seriously. Addressing the camera flaw, a company spokesperson said, “The camera can be turned into a bezel of the TV so that the lens is covered, or disabled by pushing the camera inside the bezel. The TV owner can also unplug the TV from the home network when the Smart TV features are not in use.” Samsung also recommends that customers use encrypted wireless access points.

The flaws in Samsung Smart TVs, which have now been patched, enabled hackers to remotely turn on the TVs’ built-in cameras without leaving any trace of it on the screen. While you’re watching TV, a hacker anywhere around the world could have been watching you. Hackers also could have easily rerouted an unsuspecting user to a malicious website to steal bank account information. Samsung quickly fixed the problem after security researchers at iSEC Partners informed the company about the bugs. Samsung sent a software update to all affected TVs.

Bottom Line: When all else fails or you’re just not sure…. you can always put tape over the cameras. A low tech solution for a high tech problem.

These types of glitches speak to the larger problem of gadgets that connect to the Internet but have virtually no security to speak of.

If something can connect to the internet, it can be hacked. Security cameras, lights, heating control systems, smart implanted medical devices and even door locks and windows are now increasingly coming with features that allow users to control them remotely. Without proper security controls, there’s little to stop hackers from invading users’ privacy, stealing personal information or spying on people.

Black Hat 2013: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/33780/black-hat-2013-researchers-demo-how-smart-tvs-can-watch-you-/

 

 

 

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