Is someone watching you through your TV?

Many of us may welcome new smart gadgets and devices into our homes. They might have an impressive touchscreen or a smartphone app that allows you to control them from wherever you are, whenever – making life a little bit more fun (if that’s your kind of thing) and easier than before.

Yet behind the sleek designs and the impressive functionality that seemed rather space-age even ten years ago, there is a more sinister side to these smart devices, from dishwashers to AGAS, and even your TV.

Hacks and breaches

It seems that more or less every day now we are either hearing about a hack, a data breach or some kind of security issue associated with technology. And while you think this may only happen to organisations such as the NHS or large corporations, you’re wrong.

Any smart technology – such as your cooker or your TV – is susceptible to hackers. Manufacturers of these devices – whilst creating products that consumers are pleased to have in their homes – have not always taken the security measures needed to keep their products, and us, safe.

Take a look at just a few examples:

  • One hacking program, code-named “Weeping Angel,” purportedly involves a technique for hacking Samsung smart TVs that appear turned off while actually secretly recording nearby conversations. Your shiny smart TV may be listening in to your life and even watching you from its built-in video camera. Creepy stuff!
  • AGA’s Total Control mobile app makes no attempt to encrypt its communications and sends messages over plaintext HTTP – making it really easy for an attacker to intercept and modify commands. Your dinner may never get cooked if a hacker really wants to mess with your oven. 2
  • Recently, a vulnerability was discovered in the internet-connected Miele Professional PG 8528 dishwasher, an industrial washer-disinfector that is used in restaurants and hospitals. Hackers can access the dishwasher, plant malware on it, and potentially use it to connect to, and play havoc with other devices on the dishwasher’s network. 3

Not business as usual

Maybe you are asking ‘what’s all the fuss about – the damage can’t be that bad’. Yet consider the chaos that could be wreaked if the dishwasher mentioned above were to provide hackers with access to other hospital equipment, allowing them to simply turn everything off. Definitely not business as usual for hospitals and patients as a result.

Not only that, but it’s really not nice to think that someone or something is watching you from your TV. Increasingly more and more people we know are switching off or covering up their webcams – even when not in use – for fear of being spied on. So is this paranoia or a very real threat?

When eyeballing the very latest technology and deciding on the next smart gadget to install in your home, ask yourself (and the salesperson) about security. Does this device have the potential to be hacked? What could the far-reaching consequences be? How safe would you feel in the stronghold of your home if a mystery hacker were to start messing around with your hard-earned dinner?

With every step forward technology takes, it pays to do a little more research about a product before you make that purchase. Hidden behind the swanky touchscreen and the mobile control could literally be a whole world that knows all about you and could control elements of your life.

Chat with us about this interesting topic or any other hacking or IT support query.