Forget smartphones, it's smart TVs that we should be worried about

By on August 2, 2013, 12:00 PM

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.

User Comments: 13

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2 people like this | spencer spencer said:

Yet agian,I have been right. And that hacker...Is The US government and international bankers

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Hackers hack for money, not to do practical jokes on families watching TV. On a scale from 1 to 10, I put this at a 1 for electronic gadgets to be worried about.

treeski treeski said:

Hackers hack for money, not to do practical jokes on families watching TV. On a scale from 1 to 10, I put this at a 1 for electronic gadgets to be worried about.

With TV apps, you can buy content. So there is sensitive data to worry about as well.

Jcanno0759 said:

Not to mention if they can use the camera to spy they could've use it case someone's house

RenGood08 RenGood08 said: personal space just got totally violated! I will NOT look at TV shopping the same way again. "Hmmm...if I get this one, someone might try to hack into it and watch my every move." NOT CREEPY AT ALL! Getting shivers down my spine from this now....

Guest said:

That's why I would never buy any kind of webcam that I can't unplug when I want to....The XBOX ONE refuses to turn on if I disconnect the Kinect? then it can go to hell for all I care

Also since I saw the proof of concept adobe flash hack that took pictures of your webcam without any warnings, I put tape over my laptop cam and mic, sick of this spying crap

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I don't ever see the need to own a smart tv and if I ever do I guess I'll have to put it's eye out.

avoidz avoidz said:

My roll of black electrical tape is getting a lot more use these days.

gkubed said:

Is anyone else really bothered about that first picture of John001 talking to his mom? It's really unnerving.

Razer said:

Noooo! now, they will know if I'm watching adult movie or porn, and they will tell my mom!! this is disasterrrr!!!

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Just about everything you buy nowadays has a camera & internet connectivity. I wonder if they'll consider adapting toilet paper to the technology... Maybe the NSA has something in it's pipeline already, ready to spy on our pipelines...

Chuck Cortes Chuck Cortes said:

Funny how everyone assumes the problem is the TV and software and not the Gov't and instead of doing something about the problem (the Govt) they instead try to block it, as if that will actually work. You wanna avoid privacy violations? You may as well move to a deserted island with no internet because if your best defense is electrical tape then you are more idiotic than you think.

Guest said:

Someone dig up George Orwell and give him a medal for predicting this all the way back in 1949.

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