Security firm exposes dangers of so-called “smart” products
Paul Joseph Watson
December 14, 2012
A security firm has discovered a vulnerability in Samsung’s ‘Smart’ TVs that allows the devices to be hacked which, if left unpatched, would permit the system’s microphone and camera to used to spy on the viewer.
Similar to an XBox Kinect, the Samsung ‘Smart Hub’ line of televisions allows users to control the television via physical gestures and voice control. A high definition camera is also used by the device to allow Skype calls. The device also includes facial recognition technology. However, these features can also be hijacked to turn the television into a modern day equivalent of George Orwell’s telescreen.
“In an e-mail exchange with Security Ledger, the Malta-based firm said that the previously unknown (“zero day”) hole affects Samsung Smart TVs running the latest version of the company’s Linux-based firmware. It could give an attacker the ability to access any file available on the remote device, as well as external devices (such as USB drives) connected to the TV. And, in a Orwellian twist, the hole could be used to access cameras and microphones attached to the Smart TVs, giving remote attacker the ability to spy on those viewing a compromised set.”
The vulnerability was discovered by ReVuln, who noted that the security hole cannot be patched without voiding the TV’s warranty. In the video above, ReVuln researchers show how easy it is to gain access to the TV’s root files and copy entire contents of the hard drive as well as passwords and social networking information.
ReVuln only agreed to divulge the information to paying subscribers and Samsung did not respond to requests asking for a comment on the issue.
The use of microphones to record conversations is a major privacy issue in the both the public and private sector.
Televisions, computers and cellphones are all currently being upgraded with technology that records conversations in order to bombard users with invasive targeted advertising. Verizon recently followed Google’s lead and officially filed a patent for a set-top box that will actively spy on Americans in their own homes.
App providers on the Android network also now require users to agree to a condition that, “Allows the app to record audio with the microphone,” on cellphones and other ‘smart’ devices. “This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation,” states the text of the agreement.
Virtually every new technological device now being manufactured that is linked to the Internet has the capability to record conversations and send them back to a central hub. Is it really any wonder therefore that former CIA directorDavid Petraeus heralded the arrival of the “smart home” as a boon for “clandestine statecraft”?
Earlier this week it was reported that authorities across the United States are planning to install microphones on buses in order to eavesdrop on passengers. The Intellistreets lighting network, also currently being installed across the country, similarly has the ability to both watch people with video cameras and record their conversations with microphones.