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Wikileaks: CIA can turn your Smart TV into a surveillance device

by Brandon Russell | March 7, 2017March 7, 2017 11:15 am PDT

We already knew Smart TVs were capable of spying on consumers, but it’s even worse than we thought. According to CIA documents obtained by Wikileaks, via The Intercept, hackers within the government agency made sophisticated software capable of turning your Smart TV into a listening device—all unbeknownst to users.

Apparently, a program known as “Weeping Angel” gave the CIA access to Samsung’s suite of Smart TVs, allowing hackers to turn the television set’s built-in microphone into a surreptitious surveillance gadget. All the while, the TV would appear off, though the hardware inside would reportedly continue to operate.

CES-2013-Samsung-TV-Keynote

It’s unclear how the CIA’s agency hackers were able to access Smart TVs as part of its spy program, or who was targeted in the first place. While the documents do reference infecting the TVs with a malicious USB drive, it’s unclear if a hack could be executed remotely. Either way, once a TV is compromised, audio data is then sent back to the CIA.

Maybe it’s time to buy an old tube TV

As The Intercept notes, only one Samsung TV (model F8000) is mentioned in the document, and it’s unclear if any other models or manufacturers are vulnerable to such a hack. Even still, the document unveils a sophisticated and terrifying program that could potentially be spying on millions of Americans. Worse, the document mentions “video capture / video snapshot” under its to-do section, so it could get worse.

Hopefully, now that these documents have uncovered the CIA’s “Weeping Angel” program, TV manufacturers can plug up whatever vulnerabilities these hacks take advantage of.

Wikileaks TheIntercept

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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