Smart TV Exploit Means Hackers Can Watch You Watch TV

from the i-spy-with-my-little-eye dept

Remember all the hubbub (now there's a word I never thought I’d use; thanks a lot, aging process) over Comcast’s kind of, maybe plan to spy on subscribers through their cable box as they watch TV, fold their laundry, or engage in coitus? There was quite an outcry at the time, even as Comcast said that the plan was only to have the cameras be able to recognize when different types or numbers of people were watching the tube. People just didn’t feel comfortable with corporations being able to spy on them. As a result, Comcast backed away from the plan — the people had defeated the corporation.

All, apparently, so that hackers could spy on them instead. At least, that’s what some reports are saying about Samsung Smart TVs and an exploit that would allow hackers to snatch social media credentials, access any files or devices connected to the smart TV…oh, and to use the built in cameras to spy the hell out of people as they do whatever they do while watching television.

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 group that reportedly discovered the vulnerability, ReVuln, proudly stated that they would not publish any information about what they’d uncovered except to paying subscribers because screw everyone else (not an actual quote). They also have a company policy, apparently, that would prevent them from working with Samsung directly on a fix or even to disclose the hole, leading me to reach the logical conclusion that Dr. Evil is apparently running that company.

Even more fun, thanks to how Samsung designed the product, chances are any fix that could be produced would be difficult to implement.

Currently, the Smart TVs offer no native security features, such as a firewall, user authentication or application whitelisting. More critically: there is no independent software update capability, meaning that, barring a firmware update from Samsung, the exploitable hole can’t be patched without “voiding the device’s warranty and using other exploits,” ReVuln said.

The company posted a video of an attack on a Samsung TV LED 3D Smart TV online. It shows an attacker gaining shell access to the TV, copying the contents of its hard drive to an external device and mounting them on a local drive, providing access to photos, documents and other content. ReVuln said an attacker would also be able to lift credentials from any social networks or other online services accessed from the device.

In other words, customers get to wait around until Samsung can figure this thing out on their own, since ReVuln won’t help them out by company policy, or risk voiding their warranty on their smart TV that has a complete lack of security features. Nicely done, everyone involved.

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Companies: samsung

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Comments on “Smart TV Exploit Means Hackers Can Watch You Watch TV”

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75 Comments
Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: And the fix:

Nor does it cover microphones. The easiest solution is to buy a TV that’s not a Smart TV because the defects have to be kinked out before they hit retailers. Things to look for are high ratings in Color Gamut in the sRGB range, refresh rate (the higher the better, but the ability to disable some smoothing), connectivity standards (some of us still own Super Nintendo’s), and ATSC and QAM digital channel range.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: agree

An internet connected camera is a camera for anyone. Especially if there is no security on the device.
Only question is…… What is the text to search for on google, to access the camera on your TV ?

People should be fucking mad about this.
Really fucking mad.
Samsung should know better.


To prove a point of why Samsung should know better.

GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR ONLINE CAMERAS
allintitle: “Network Camera NetworkCamera” Network cameras

intitle:Axis 2400 video server Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges, clubs, bars, etc.

intitle:axis intitle:”video server” Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges, bars, ski slopes etc.

intitle:”EvoCam”

inurl:”webcam.html” Mostly European security cameras

intitle:”Live NetSnap Cam-Server feed” Network cameras, private and non private web cameras

intitle:”Live View / – AXIS” Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

intitle:”LiveView / – AXIS” | inurl:view/view.shtml Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

intitle:liveapplet Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges, clubs, bars etc.

intitle:snc-cs3 inurl:home/ Mostly security cameras, swimming pools and more etc.

intitle:”snc-rz30 home” Mostly security cameras, shops, car parks

intitle:snc-z20 inurl:home/ Mostly security cameras, swimming pools and more etc.

intitle:”WJ-NT104 Main” Mostly security cameras, shops, car parks

inurl:LvAppl intitle:liveapplet Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

inurl:indexFrame.shtml “Axis Video Server” Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

inurl:lvappl A huge list of webcams around the world, mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

inurl:axis-cgi/jpg Mostly security cameras

inurl:indexFrame.shtml Axis Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

inurl:”MultiCameraFrame?Mode=Motion” Mostly security cameras, pet shops, colleges etc.

inurl:/view.shtml Mostly security cameras, car parks, colleges etc.

inurl:/view/index.shtml Mostly security cameras, airports, car parks, back gardens, traffic cams etc.

inurl:viewerframe?mode= Network cameras, mostly private webcams etc.

inurl:”viewerframe?mode=motion” Network cameras

inurl:ViewerFrame?Mode=Refresh Mostly security cameras, parks, bird tables etc.


All of those searches retrieve unsecured webcams online.
I wouldn’t trust their “security” anyway. Would you ?

Moral of the story…..
Don’t have cameras watching you from devices that can be online, streaming everything at a click of someones button.

Dirt_is_Fun (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And the fix:

Seriously. The life cycle of a TV is 2 or three times longer than a PC, so it make ZERO sense to buy a TV with PC functionality. Sure it is an extra box, but it is a whole lot easier to replace your Roku/AppleTV/DVD player or patch your HTPC than to pray that Samsung or whoever issues security patches for your TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nope not in the market for a tv. So good luck hacking an non-existent one. If I were in the market for a tv, it would be one that doesn’t connect to the internet, won’t use PPV, and won’t be trying to access anything not directly plugged into it of my own devices.

This is just one more example of why targeted ads are such a bad idea. There seems to be no bottom of the barrel too low to stoop to when it comes to money and commercials. Privacy is the first thing to fall. We’ve tons of examples where to ad companies targeted ars are their wet dream. They tend to act like just everyone is dying to access their latest dumb ideas.

Here’s one that doesn’t want ads, doesn’t have to have them, can’t see where anything is cheaper because of them. I recall not one single time when some company said you don’t owe us this month because ads are paying for it.

Not one solitary time.

Just John (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, I can understand why they would have a policy not to share. Look at all the people who have been brought up on some kind of charge after identifying a security hole.

AT&T was the most recent posted here on Techdirt.
What about American Express’ approach to security holes?
What about students who find security holes and then charged with a crime.

There are more and more and more stories about people getting negative reactions by identifying security holes than getting good reactions from companies who wish to fix them instead of burying their collective heads in the sand. Sad but true, I would not tell them either.

Anonymous Coward says:

The question we gotta start asking ourselves, this shows for everyone to see, what the hardware and software is capable of, question is, do ALL corporations out there, with their outspoken belief in EVERYONES liberty, which they continue to show us in a loving way……..not putting their own, CLOSED source snooping tools.

Silly me, im sure there is accountability for this very thing, i mean its so obvious that i should just assume that it is……..oh my government, how much like a warm blanket you are before the winter hits

Anonymous Coward says:

The question we gotta start asking ourselves, this shows for everyone to see, what the hardware and software is capable of, question is, do ALL corporations out there, with their outspoken belief in EVERYONES liberty, which they continue to show us in a loving way……..not putting their own, CLOSED source snooping tools.

Silly me, im sure there is accountability for this very thing, i mean its so obvious that i should just assume that it is……..oh my government, how much like a warm blanket you are before the winter hits

Anonymous Coward says:

The question we gotta start asking ourselves, this shows for everyone to see, what the hardware and software is capable of, question is, do ALL corporations out there, with their outspoken belief in EVERYONES liberty, which they continue to show us in a loving way……..not putting their own, CLOSED source snooping tools.

Silly me, im sure there is accountability for this very thing, i mean its so obvious that i should just assume that it is……..oh my government, how much like a warm blanket you are before the winter hits

Anonymous Coward says:

The question we gotta start asking ourselves, this shows for everyone to see, what the hardware and software is capable of, question is, do ALL corporations out there, with their outspoken belief in EVERYONES liberty, which they continue to show us in a loving way……..not putting their own, CLOSED source snooping tools.

Silly me, im sure there is accountability for this very thing, i mean its so obvious that i should just assume that it is……..oh my government, how much like a warm blanket you are before the winter hits

Anonymous Coward says:

Well the news that these TVs can be hacked to spy on people isn’t really surprising. Of course it’s good to spread the news so everyone is aware of it, but anyone a bit savvy about computers and the Internet would know that 1) It’s possible to hack into any device connected to the Internet – nothing is or has ever been 100% secure and 2) This includes webcams and microphones.

I’m baffled some people would be so naive as to think those TVs are safe, but I guess a lot of folk just haven’t received proper education about computers and the web.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m baffled some people would be so naive as to think those TVs are safe, but I guess a lot of folk just haven’t received proper education about computers and the web.

To the average consumer, this isn’t a computer, it’s a TV. So how could a TV have computer vulnerabilities? Getting hacked is something that happens to computers, not TVs, right? I don’t know what Samsung’s excuse is; they certainly know it’s a computer.

Travicane says:

Most of these POC Smart TV’s have a virtually useless USB Port (as do set top boxes,etc). The Linux kernal/custom shell is not accessible by the user. So the fact that the TV is Linux is relevant only to hackers.

If the TV was based on true open source linux with a user friendly shell, with a usable USB port, a solution would likely be available in days for a moderately tech smart user. These are becoming more common as time goes by, as the old in mind die off!

Don’t yell at me for being ageist, I am a senior.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your not the only one with that thought

Offcourse if they were really determined to invade privacy, i guess they could r&d on methods to conceal a second camera

In that scenario, god bless the hobbiests who like tearing into their technology to document online, the individual componants used in our technology

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Possible Hobbiest scenario:
“Look at the spec list, there are 4 HD camera devices included in the TV design specs, but only one of them is listed as the ‘Audience viewing device’, the other 3 are listed as:
Corporate Information Retrieval Device (do not access or warranty void)
Government Information Retrieval Device (do not access or warranty void)
Backup Information Retrieval Device (do not access or warranty void)

I wonder where those are and what information they are retrieving and for who?”

Patenting and copyrighting this so that when it happens, I can sue and collect my payday (that’s what we are all waiting for right, being able to sue our way to being one of the ‘rich elite’).

nasch (profile) says:

Re: uhh install a firewall/router??

Not sure why nobody else has pointed out the obvious but most likely a properly configured router would solve the issue…

A) Other people have pointed it out. B) What percentage of internet users in the US do you suppose have a properly configured router, or have any idea how to configure one? I would be surprised if it’s half.

anonymouse says:

not that exciting really

I used to work for a big Telecom company and i had the ability to listen in to any telephone conversation, all i needed to do was plug my headset in and away you go, now it is even simpler as you can do everything on a screen and have a headset on all day. Even with all of this power, with the ability to listen to hundreds of thousands of people, it took a total of less than 15 minutes of listening to different conversation to get bored, imagine the hackers, hacking into cameras facing a wall or to a group of people watching tv , how boring, the chances of that anyone having sex or being naked in front of the tv is so small it would be a 1 in a million chance to catch someone at it.
Saying that I still put some tape over my camera and make sure the xbox is switched off.especially if I am going to have sex.

The Real Michael says:

Re: not that exciting really

Well, sex wouldn’t be the only incentive. A hacker can find a person of interest, e.g. an attractive young girl, and make her the target of his fantasies, always watching her. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even figure out where she lives…

That being said, the solution is simple: keep the TVs with the built-in camera/mic out of your home.

BigKeithO says:

Re: Samsung's motives are always suspect

I have a 3D / Smart TV. The 3D and the Smart portion might not be very useful but that doesn’t mean the set is DOA. The TV itself is extremely nice, the 3D and Smart portion were just tacked on and didn’t cost anything extra. Seems silly to call them DOA.

The best use of 3D I’ve seen to date has to be video games. Try out a little Assassin’s Creed in 3D before you write the entire thing off. Next Gen consoles + 3D TV’s… you might see them take off.

Barry says:

Blackmail?

Come on folks, this is an easy one. The Russians or Democrats set up a free porn site (I’m sure this has already been done). When poilitician or anyone possibly considering runnig against a socialist watches / streams / download anything at all, than does what every single man on this planet and most women do (a man can hope), the incumbent politicins now have a video of you diddling yourslelf (that’s not where the term “turning Japanese comes from). Obama says “hey, I’m sticking around for a few more terms untill I finish this transformation” and who’s gonna object with the threat of there personal porn video being released on the internet?

F! says:

I thought people were ok with this?

Why is it OK for a laptop to have a built in camera, if it sounds like a stupid idea for a TV? I still think anyone who accepts them on laptops must have a hole in their head.

How many of you have cameras on your desktop machines that you leave plugged into the computer, which runs all day long?

Cameras on your personal tracking device )otherwise known as cell phones)?

Web cams are simply an open invitation to Big Brother (and hackers). I recall my initial instinctive reaction when I first heard of them in the 1990s was one of absolute disgust and bafflement that anyone could ever want such a privacy invasive toy. I didn’t expect them to last long. Boy was I wrong…

I’m still no less baffled and disgusted than I was then.

So please explain why it’s suddenly not OK to have them on your TV when you have them everywhere else?

wireless camera (user link) says:

Wireless cameras

Screw Type Wireless Camera System

SR-10 1,2 GHz

Micro camera easy to hide thanks to the hidden lens by a screw. It’s enough 3mm hole to hide it anywhere.

The lens has the shape of a cross-head screw has the dimensions of an ordinary screw (22 x 22 x 24 mm). The color camera offers a built-in microphone for audio listening environment. It’s perfect for any application both in the field of surveillance and modeling and it provides a range of up to 50-100 meters. The camera is durable and very small, ideal to be concealed inside an electronic device, a wall, a piece of furniture, in the car and any structure where a screw isn’t noticed.
The receiver, all-metal 4-channel quartz with detachable and articulated antenna, gives the possibility to use 4 kit at the same time without problems or disorders. The receiver is designed for connection to all types of TV to the AV channel with the help of cables contained within the packaging.
The micro camera is usable even in absence of electricity, thanks to a 9V battery with the adapter included.

http://www.endoacustica.com/details_sr_10_en.htm

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