Skip to main content

Your Smart TV could be hacked a lot more easily than you might think

smart tv hack samsung qled
Your smart TV may know exactly what Netflix show you want to watch at the end of a long day, but it could also be letting hackers know more than you want them to about … well, you. As first reported by Ars Technica, there’s a new hack whose proof of concept suggests that terrestrial radio signals could be used to take control of a large swath of Smart TV sets without having actual physical access to any one of them.

In the demonstration of the hack, security consultant Rafael Scheel of Oneconsult AG used a cheap transmitter to embed malicious commands into a rogue TV signal, Ars reports. When that signal is broadcast to devices in the vicinity, it’s able to gain access to the televisions. The key to the attack is the exploitation of two documented security flaws in the Web browsers that run in the background of the TV models used in the test, both manufactured by Samsung. But that doesn’t mean that other sets are immune — if the attack were engineered to target other browser bugs, it would likely be just as effective.

“Once a hacker has control over the TV of an end user, he can harm the user in a variety of ways,” Scheel told Ars. “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.” Indeed, in Scheel’s demonstration, he was able to remotely control the TV, and even rebooting and resetting the device didn’t lock him out of the smart appliance.

Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of Scheel’s proof of concept is that a hacker wouldn’t need any physical access to any of the devices. That means one could control a much larger number of smart TVs, too. And as an increasing number of concerns are raised about smart home devices overall, this demonstration certainly serves to underscore our vulnerability.

“This research is significant because TVs are used by a fundamentally different demographic than computers,” Yossef Oren, a security researcher told Ars. “People who use TVs don’t know/care about security, they aren’t used to getting security prompts from their TVs, they don’t have the discipline of installing security updates, and so on.”

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
You can now make your own AI art with Amazon Fire TV
An example of AI-generated art made available on Amazon Fire TV.

An example of AI-generated art now available on Amazon Fire TV. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Amazon has flipped the switch on its AI Art feature, allowing owners of the 2023 Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Omni QLED Series televisions to create their own computer-generated backgrounds. This feature was announced at Amazon's fall 2023 hardware and services event, and one about which we went deeper in our interview with Amazon Director of Fire TV Experience Joshua Danovitz.

Read more
First look: Telly’s free TV just might be able to pull this off
The secondary Smart Display on a Telly TV.

Telly is a 55-inch LCD television with a built-in soundbar and secondary Smart Display. And it's free. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

In hindsight, the skepticism over Telly — a 55-inch LCD TV that the company is giving away for “free” — was understandable. Warranted, even. After all, there’s a reason I put “free” in quotes like that. Telly isn’t just any old 55-incher that you can find in any store. It’s a 55-incher with a built in soundbar, webcam, far-field microphone array — and a 10-inch-tall “Smart Screen” that lives under the main panel and shows (among many other things) advertising.

Read more
MSI Claw handheld hands-on: it’s more significant than you think
Sonic Superstars running on the MSI Claw.

MSI is entering the handheld arena, and its debut is more significant than you might think. The MSI Claw doesn't look dissimilar from the Asus ROG Ally or even the Steam Deck OLED, but the specs underneath mark a significant departure for handheld gaming PCs.

I had a chance to try the device at CES 2024, and it's definitely a contender. Bolstered with a new chipset, a comfortable design, and software designed to tackle the issues with Windows on a handheld, this might be the portable gaming PC to buy this year.

Read more