Smart TV hack embeds attack code into broadcast signal—no access required

0 Posted by - 2nd April 2017 - Technology

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A screen shot showing the exploit taking control of a Samsung TV.

A new attack that uses terrestrial radio signals to hack a wide range of Smart TVs raises an unsettling prospect—the ability of hackers to take complete control of a large number of sets at once without having physical access to any of them.

The proof-of-concept exploit uses a low-cost transmitter to embed malicious commands into a rogue TV signal. That signal is then broadcast to nearby devices. It worked against two fully updated TV models made by Samsung. By exploiting two known security flaws in the Web browsers running in the background, the attack was able to gain highly privileged root access to the TVs. By revising the attack to target similar browser bugs found in other sets, the technique would likely work on a much wider range of TVs.

“Once a hacker has control over the TV of an end user, he can harm the user in a variety of ways,” Rafael Scheel, the security consultant who publicly demonstrated the attack, 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 TVs camera and microphone.”

Scheel’s exploit relies on a transmitter that’s based on digital video broadcasting—terrestrial, a transmission standard that’s built into the vast majority of TVs. TVs that are connected to the Internet, are currently tuned to a DVB-T-based station, support the hybrid broadcast broadband TV standard, and contain at least one critical vulnerability can be exploited without showing any outward signs anything is amiss.

The exploit, which Scheel developed for a firm called Oneconsult, was demonstrated in February at the European Broadcasting Union Media Cyber Security Seminar. Once completed, the attack gave Scheel the ability to remotely connect to the TV over the Internet using interfaces that allowed him to take complete control of the device. The infection was also able to survive both device reboots and factory resets. A recording of the talk is available below:

Smart TV Hacking (Oneconsult Talk at EBU Media Cyber Security Seminar) via #CIO, #Technology