Technology has afforded us with a level of convenience and entertainment that was unimaginable just 10 years ago. But despite all of the positive attributes that gadgets like smartphones, Google Glass and Xbox One carry, there’s an underlying issue that has become downright frightening over the past several months largely due to revelations concerning the NSA and the FBI’s spying abilities: personal privacy.
Once the idea of conspiracy theorists and the paranoid, it’s now come to pass that if a connected device has a camera and/or a microphone, it can be used as a spy tool. Smartphones are usually the first to be associated with spying simply because they are on you at all times. That’s true, but they are usually kept in a pocket, a purse or on a desk where the camera would be of little to no use to a hacker.
But what about a smart TV?
According to at least three security researchers at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, a smart TV is the most dangerous item in your house. Why? Well as iSEC Partners Aaron Grattafiori and Josh Yavor outlined during a recent conference session, a smart TV is really just a smartphone with a big screen.
Along those lines, it can be compromised by anyone in the world with enough knowledge to do so. To demonstrate their idea, the duo managed to hack into a Samsung Smart TV using the Skype app but truth be told, any smart TV app used to communicate over the web can be a portal for hackers.
Once inside the television, virtually anything is fair game. A hacker can record video using the set’s camera, steal your username and password and even force the web browser to visit virus-infested websites.
As such, a smart TV is a much more dangerous weapon for spying than a smartphone because it’s always watching you because, well, you are watching it. Televisions are the centerpiece for many living room and even bedrooms. Do you really want someone seeing everything that goes on in your bedroom behind closed doors? If you have a smart TV in your room, that’s exactly what could be happening.
SeungJin Lee, another security researcher speaking at the conference, said surveillance isn’t about himself or even you. If your PC is hacked, it’s mostly your problem but if a smart TV is compromised, the entire family – your wife / girlfriend and kids – are also victims without ever knowing it.
Of course, spying isn’t the only mischievous deed a malicious hacker could perform. With the right skill set, a hacker could even play tricks on you. For example, you could be watching a newscast and a hacker could display a fake graphic or headline that could potentially cause a lot of trouble or inflict great fear.
I, for one, will be sticking with my dated plasma TV for the foreseeable future.