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Television Bug Privacy Security Hardware

Eavesdropping With a Smart TV 93

An anonymous reader writes "A article on The Register titled talks about a demo that was given in London last month by NCC Group where they turned a modern TV into an audio bug. 'The devices contain microphones and cameras that can be utilized by applications — Skype and similar apps being good examples. The TV has a fairly large amount of storage, so would be able to hold more than 30 seconds of audio – we only captured short snippets for demonstrations purposes. A more sophisticated attack could store more audio locally and only upload it at certain times, or could even stream it directly to a server, bypassing the need to use any of the device’s storage.' Given the Snowden revelations and what we've seen previously about older tech being deprecated, how can we protect ourselves with the modern devices (other than not connecting them to the Internet)?"
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Eavesdropping With a Smart TV

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  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:21PM (#46969073) Journal

    That won't work.

    There's a good breakdown on infowars about why it won't work: []

    But you can't just take what's on infowars without a grain of salt, so here's a video on intel's website where they substantiate everything, but with a positive spin []

    We need open hardware. The hardware being made in the factories is not trustworthy.

    For the majority who won't click links and read articles, the gist is, there's a 3G radio antenna and a special dedicated processor inside of your CPU, and it can be used to either take complete control of your device, or to destroy it. All the details are there in Intel's marketing material.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:43PM (#46969185) Homepage

    There's a good breakdown on infowars about why it won't work: []

    Most Intel's hardware doesn't ship with vPro, so it's unlikely to be much of a problem. Also, most smart-TVs and the likes still ship with ARM-chips, not Intel.

  • Re:Simple (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:11PM (#46969317) Homepage

    If you go with XBMC may I recommend setting Dirty Regions to 1 instead of the default of 3? It gives XBMC a nice speed boost and drops its CPU-usage a whole bunch. See [] for details.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:32AM (#46970577)

    Are you aware that if you take an old television apart and go poking your fingers around in there, you'll very likely be killed, even if the television has been unplugged for over a year. They contain capacitors that will hold a deadly charge for a very long time after you unplug them.

    Which is a non sequitar. If you are going into the television, you discharge the capacitor. The closest thing I can come up with is that you are sying the cap is a power source. Won't work.

    You really think something they designed in these types of capabilities for espionage, but are going to be stymied by you unplugging the thing?

    The US government controls what hardware is contained in those televisions. They forced the issue when they were moving away from free-to-air television. If you've been coming to slashdot for a long time, you read all about it.

    So, what evidence do you have of this? How is the "snooping" device powered? What frequencies does it operate on? All this is very simple stuff. You can't hide power sources, you can't hide RF. You can't power unpowered things. I could open the back of a smart TV and find the needed components pretty quickly. You'd need a battery, an RF transmitter, and antenna. Looking, and a multimeter, and a cheap radio (I'd use a spectrum analyzer) are all you need. I forgot - a screwdriver. But trivial to find. Can't change the laws of physics, no matter how advanced the paranoia.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva