Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vizio Smart TVs Track Watching Habits To Work With Spies, I mean Advertisers,But so do others

Vizio Smart TVs Track Watching Habits To Work With Advertisers « CBS Sacramento

As we buy these smart (anything) just remember your privacy is always at risk.  The only reason this Vizio is being singled out is that it defaults to the tracking mode.  I just worked a problem, where the client's TV (remember to make it smart it has a computer inside it) was able to turn on a capability to use an on board camera, the client was not even aware of, to watch them during (well anything) with out them being aware.   The FBI in a public meeting turned on the video of a computer I was working at, in less than 10 seconds. It was a setup, that I was the volunteer for.

Hacking computers is getting a little harder, not much, but a little, with people buying security software for them.  So hackers are turning to other devices like your TV that has a computer to gain access to your privacy.   The new thermostats for your homes that allow you to monitor and change the settings from your smart phone, or tablet, have on board computers, if from China, often with backdoors in them that allow for access, to your home, and more importantly to your home network, past all your security, remember you had to put your router password into the device to get it to work on your system.  With a back door, the bad guys can get the (smart device) TV, Thermostat, surveillance camera, etc..  to cough up your router pass words as well as any other passwords you used in the system.  Most of these devices have no way to be secured, they are just open to hacks.

You can put them on a separate router, but as soon as you want to use it with existing equipment, you yourself violate the separation, and open your system to the bad guys.

Now add to this we have smart thermostat's available today that has both audio and video capability, now there is a huge privacy problem.  Here is where it gets tricky, one's with the audio and or video capability look the same as those with out.  You can take them apart and look for the camera or microphone, but it still can be tough to be sure.  The temperature sensor in the thermostat looks a lot like a microphone.

This brings us full circle to the Smart TV, do you think you will be able to tell if microphones or even cameras have been made into the TV,  I would have a very hard time, and I did this for the USSS.  Ah a simple rf detector would find the emanations, except, if you have it (the TV) hooked into your local network, it will be sending and receiving signals a good bit of the time.  Now you could talk into your TV and see if Internet traffic increases, it may show, or it may buffer and quick burst, so it would not correlate.   By the way talking to your thermostat may be a way of checking for an audio bug looking with a rf detector to see if there is  correlation, shining a light into the TV or thermostat, may show a camera, being used.  I would not bet the farm on it, but if you have an simple RF detector it may work.

So in conclusion anytime you see "SMART"  TV, thermostat, weight scale in the bathroom, even your refrigerator, beware, it maybe giving up more information on you than you think.  It is often just a chip or two that does all the magic, and they can be hacked like any computer, even easier in many cases.


  1. And you can rent it