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Can Samsung’s New Smart TV Watch You Walk Around in Your Underwear?

Do appliances that are connected to the internet pose a risk to the average homeowner’s privacy?

According to CIA director David Petraeus, yes they can, in fact they will “transform surveillance“. As Petraeus says:

. . . Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.

The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled . . . link

What does this have to do with Samsung? Take a look above at their UN65ES8000 LED plasma TV, that boasts of internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition. This TV can recognize faces of those viewing it and store their program preferences as well as other data. The camera and microphones can not be disabled (unless you use a hammer) (link To quote one review:

. . . While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data. . . Samsung has not released a privacy policy clarifying what data it is collecting and sharing with regard to the new TV sets and, while there is no current evidence of any particular security hole or untoward behavior by Samsung’s app partners, Samsung has only stated that it “assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable” in the event that a product or service is not “appropriate.

Ah-hem . . .

The TV can also listen and recognize voice commands and is connected (automatically) to the internet, which did not please Korea Telecom, since they tried to disable the TV’s connection, claiming it used too much bandwidth and could cripple their network (link. Naturally, Samsung disagrees with KT.

Meanwhile, could some enterprising hacker hack your smart TV and spy on you? The answer is “most likely”, it is possible because Samsung Smart TVs use a version of the Android operating system, which has already been hacked in cell phones, allowing a hacker to remote control the phone.  If the smart TV is connected to the internet, then it can be reached remotely.

About the author: Psst, want to buy some used marble cheap?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Thank you Petraeus for ruining our tech buzz… :P

  • cm

    I want this TV. I think it’s cool. And who cares if hackers want to hack into my room and look at my fugly old face. More power to them.

  • Charles Tilly

    And who cares if hackers want to hack into my room and look at my fugly old face. More power to them.

    Pretty sure that you’ll be singing a different tune when they start looking into stuff other than your “fugly old face.”

  • αβγδε

    There’s a great solution to this: A camera cover.

    I have the “C Slide” on my laptop computer’s camera.

    http://www.c-slide.com/

    http://vimeo.com/24064737

    I recommend it. It’s a thin plastic cover that works like a gate that slides over the camera or away from the camera when you need it to be. And it costs about 5 dollars, shipped. Of course, such a device can’t control hacking into mics on a computer or TV equipped with one. But I really don’t care about that.

    *Expects endorsement money in the mail from the makers of C Slide*

  • ralt620ij

    “Pretty sure that you’ll be singing a different tune when they start looking into stuff other than your “fugly old face.”” Indeed.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    “I have the ‘C Slide’ on my laptop computer’s camera.”

    In my day, hackers would just hack that stinkin’ C Slide off! Of course, my day was back when computers still used cards with holes punched in them for programing . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • jk6411

    #4,

    That’s brilliant!

    BTW, this reminds me of an episode of “American Dad” where Klaus swears revenge on Steve and Roger and the two freak out and hide in the attic..

  • fanwarrior

    Meanwhile, could some enterprising hacker hack your smart TV and spy on you? The answer is “most likely”, it is possible because Samsung Smart TVs use a version of the Android operating system, which has already been hacked in cell phones, allowing a hacker to remote control the phone.

    Not quite..but what’s armchair jounalism without a little sensationalism?

    There is malware around that if the user goes out and installs that would allow a third party to gain access to the phone. This requires the user willingly go out and install the application.

    This is a far cry from someone remotely jacking your TV by orders of magnitude.

  • iMe
  • R. Elgin

    Per #7:
    http://www.blogs.computerworld.com/18755/killer_android_app_allows_the_clueless_to_hack_pwn_like_a_pen_tester

    http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobile-technology/android-continues-be-most-targeted-hackers-188860

    . . . (on a smartphone) an attacker sends an email or text message that appears to be from a trusted source, like the user’s phone carrier (or some other trusted source as in a “man-in-the-middle scenario). The message urges the recipient to click on a link, which if done infects the device (NOTE: the home user will not need to do this on a smart TV). At that point, the hacker gains complete control of the phone, enabling him or her to eavesdrop on phone calls and monitor the location of the device, (Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer and co-founder of CrowdStrike) . . . Alperovitch said the firm conducted the research to highlight how mobile devices are increasingly vulnerable to a type of attack widely carried out against PCs. In such instances, hackers find previously unknown vulnerabilities in software, then exploit those flaws with malicious software that is delivered via tainted links or attached documents. . . which typically cannot be identified or thwarted by mobile device security software.
    “With modifications and perhaps use of different exploits, this attack will work on every smartphone device and represents the biggest security threat on those devices . . .

    Does anyone think the average home owner knows how to avoid having their smart TV hacked, especially when the TV can communicate with untrusted sources over the internet without the user knowing it? As per one of the links above: “. . . A Samsung representative showed how, once set up and connected to the Internet, these models will automatically talk to the Samsung cloud“. . .

  • Angusmack

    Wow. The potential for abuse and privacy violations is staggering. Smart TVs just got a whole lot less attractive. With any luck this new TV tech follows its 3D predecessor into the oblivion of consumer indifference.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    How hard is putting some tape or paper over the camera?

    I don’t even trust my webcam – I keep it covered with paper unless I am chatting on Skype.

  • http://www.chiamattt.com chiamattt

    As much as I don’t like it, this is the future. Our generation is wary of giving out personal information, but most youngins just buy into it all. It’s pretty shocking how many people have their phone number on facebook, share their locations with public profiles, etc. These tv’s and appliances connected to the net may not be what you’re looking for now, but they very well might be the only kind of tv and appliance people can buy in 15 years.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #11,

    It only works with the 1980s vintage tin hat which Counselor Carr is (hopefully) selling on Ebay to the person needing the most…pungency in his/her life.

    Seriously, why would one want such technology. Perhaps because I’m a dinosaur, but, seriously folks, it’s OK to not have social media capability all of the time. But, perhaps I haven’t told you this, but it’s impossible for me to look fine and sassy with my phone in my hand all of the time / near me, so maybe it’s just sour grapes.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “There’s a great solution to this: A camera cover.”

    A tiny corner of a post-it note will work just as well, minus the $5.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #14,

    Yup, that’s what I use. I guess some people would think that little device is cool, but I think being ingenious is much cooler.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Those TVs, by the way, are definitely a security concern. Not only could images being displayed on them, so would the audio and video of the discussions taking place…with full voice and facial recognition to boot. Imagine the potential these devices have for industrial espionage.

  • jkitchstk

    Samsux Galazy S II not only get hacked into but also burn balls…
    http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/12/this-samsung-galaxy-s-ii-started-burning-in-a-mans-pocket/

  • bumfromkorea

    This is just a conspiracy theory generated by jealous American companies who are afraid that their markets would be overtaken by Samsung and LG now that the KORUS FTA is in effect. How pathetic.

  • bumfromkorea

    … the “” seemed not to have made it there. Which kinda makes this funnier.

  • bumfromkorea

    lol [/deadpan]. Now I’m just Sperwering everything.

  • fanwarrior

    #10 The text you quoted appeared in neither of the pages you listed, but when I searched for it, not a single copy of it included the text “NOTE: the home user will not need to do this on a smart TV”

  • YangachiBastardo

    Can’t wait to be watched while i’m snoring loudly on the couch in front of some late-night UFC ppv, with soome chocolate chips ice leftovers next to me

  • R. Elgin

    Per #22, these TVs “automatically” connect to the internet for information, thus my comment about the user does not need to “click” on anything. It is not a computer or phone and it is very much unclear just what they will automatically do but there is already enough concern on the part of Samsung lawyers to issue a disclaimer, i.e., we aren’t responsible for hacks; we just make them.
    That is all the warning that I need.

  • cm

    Just put a home firewall router and block port 80, if you have to. Problem solved.

  • fanwarrior

    #24 it doesn’t matter if the TVs automatically connect to the internet for action. That hack requires the user run an application or attachment on their phone.
    There is no evidence that anyone could force the TV to automatically click or run that code anymore than they could force a phone to do it automatically. Which they can’t. If the TVs can’t even receive third party code we’d have to expect that the hacker would have to take over samsung’s servers, force the code out to the machines and use an exploit to get it to run, all just to see you in your underwear.

    I don’t think so.

    No, there is no evidence to support your sensationalism.

  • R. Elgin

    Per #26, there is an account of the TV fetching information without the user initiating a transaction and there is also nothing to suggest that the user interacts with the TV only in the manner that you describe. I would bet money that this device is hackable in ways you have not considered too.

  • fanwarrior

    Fetching information isn’t enough. The hack you linked to requires the user actually execute it manually. You haven’t provided any credible information that supports your claim that there exists current automated remote hacks to the android system.

    The email also automatically fetches the information, but it still requires the user to actually open and execute the attachment.

  • R. Elgin

    I predict that you shall be surprised more than once.

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  • R. Elgin

    It turns out that my prediction is slowly being revealed as fact:

    http://www.threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/researcher-causes-endless-restart-loop-samsung-tvs-042412

  • geek213

    Put a piece of black tape over your laptop cams.
    The built-in mic is a bit more effort but disable that too.
    Keep your anyi-virus and anti-malware up to date.
    Spoof your MAC addresses, use a Tor browser.
    Don’t go to porn, gambling or dating sites.
    Don’t go anywhere or do anything you shouldn’t.
    And enjoy!
    The Internet is not a safe place to play.
    - and certainly not a safe place to work.

  • pickmynoseforthem

    Is there information on where the camera and microphones are located on these units? Also, I already covered the camera on my fios tv box. Sneaky little bastards…