Smart TVs could be the next big hole in your home security as one hacker blows two Samsung TV sets wide open with a radio-transmitted assault.
The attack uses terrestrial radio signals to hack into smart TVs via a low-cost transmitter, pushing harmful commands across standard TV input methods. During an example shown to ArsTechnica, the malicious transmission hijacked each TV via known exploits in the device’s web browser. Through this, a hacker could then gain control of high-level root access and embed themselves in a user’s TV.
Thankfully, this is all just proof-of-concept as hacker Rafael Scheel is a security consultant, demonstrating the potential dangers of smart TVs on behalf of security consulting company Oneconsult. As Scheel explains, once a hacker has access to a smart TV, they essentially have the keys to your private life.
“Once a hacker has control over the TV of an end user, he can harm the user in a variety of ways… Among many others, the TV could be used to attack further devices in the home network or to spy on the user with the TV’s camera and microphone.”
What makes the hack so terrifying is just how untraceable it is. The hack relies upon a common transmission standard many TVs use by default, DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial). When used, the exploit shows no outward signs that the TV has been compromised and can’t be shaken via a reboot or factory reset.
Unlike the CIA’s recently uncovered “Weeping Angel” intrusion, Scheel’s exploit doesn’t need physical access to the TV set to work – you only need to place an aerial within reach of a TV set’s receiver. One extreme example could also see a compromised TV station unwittingly infecting millions of TVs through its own transmission towers.
Scheel’s TV hack is still nothing more than a possibility, but it raises yet more questions about the security of Internet of Things devices. If more and more consumer products are going to be connected to the internet, manufacturers need to ensure their devices are secure – treating them like computers, rather than a TV, kettle or lightbulb. If a simple radio-wave transmission can blow your home network wide open, perhaps it’s time to bolster defences.
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