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Can My Smart TV's Camera Watch Me?

By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. My Smart TV has a camera on it. Is it possible for someone to hack into that and use it as a camera to watch me? -- Dave, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Dave, the short (and scary answer) is yes. CNN/Money recently published an article detailing how a security firm called iSEC Partners was able to successfully hack into a 2012 Samsung Smart TV and turn the camera into a surveillance monitor.

The most frightening aspect of the report is that a TV owner would not know he was being watched by his own camera because the LED light on the camera would not go on. Using an Internet connection, the hacker could watch you from any location on the globe.

Samsung tells CNN/Money that it has
patched the flaws with a software update, but this was only after the company was alerted by iSEC Partners of the problem. Imagine if Samsung was not made aware of the problem and hackers -- or perhaps a few governmental snoops -- could watch you anytime they wanted. (There's no evidence that real-life hacking ever occurred.)

The research company also was able to hack into the Smart TV's Internet features, which enabled it to access online bank accounts and other sensitive information.


Even though Samsung says it has fixed the problem, the company offers some cautionary steps for future invasions.

"The camera can be turned into a bezel of the TV so that the lens is covered, or disabled by pushing the camera inside the bezel," the company tells CNN/Money. "The TV owner can also unplug the TV from the home network when the Smart TV features are not in use."

Or, to make it even simpler, the TV owner could simply put some tape on the camera lens when it's not being used for a Skype call, or some other function.

At this point, we don't know if the same vulnerabilities exist on other Smart TVs with cameras, but better to be safe than sorry and follow the advice offered above by Samsung.


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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.



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