Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Monday, February 9, 2015

Smart TV or Spy TV (Dumb TV)

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If George Orwell hadn't died in 1950, he'd be pretty proud of television manufacturers for inventing sets that contain cameras, speakers, and now, speech recognition with the capability of converting audio speech into digital data. I'm speaking of Samsung's smart TV that has the ability to listen in and send everything you say down the wire to others via the Internet.

As far fetched as it may sound, this is only be beginning. Read it for yourself!

The potential privacy intrusion of voice-activated services is massive. Samsung, which makes a series of Internet connected TVs, has a supplementary privacy policy covering its Smart TVs which includes the following section on voice recognition (emphasis mine):

You can control your SmartTV, and use many of its features, with voice commands. If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition. (read it!)

Here's another headline, oddly enough from CNN: The camera in your TV is watching you.

I first became aware of this issue when reading a news item some years ago that told of China holding some kind of hack class among young teenagers where they were given an education on hacking. One of the projects was to hack the camera in an Internet-connected television.

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 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. (read it!)

Another story, published as far back as December, 2012, speaks of the same kind of vulnerability:

Smart TVs, particularly Samsung’s (005930) last few generations of flat screens, can be hacked to give attackers remote access according to a security startup called ReVuln. The company says it discovered a “zero-day exploit” that hackers could potentially use to perform malicious activities that range from stealing accounts linked through apps to using built-in webcams and microphones to spy on unsuspecting couch potatoes. Don’t panic just yet, though. In order for the exploit to be activated, a hacker needs to plug a USB drive loaded with malicious software into the actual TV to bypass the Linux-based OS/firmware on Samsung’s Smart TVs. But, if a hacker were to pull that off, every piece of data stored on a Smart TV could theoretically be retrieved.

As if the possibility of someone stealing your information and spying on you isn’t scary enough, according to ComputerWorld, “it is also possible to copy the configuration of a TV’s remote control, which would allow a hacker to copy the remote control’s settings, and remotely change the channel.” (read it)

Not sure I want a smart TV because it sounds pretty dumb to me.

Al Colombo


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