Alleged leaked documents from the CIA and MI5 have revealed that Samsung smart TVs were hacked and turned into ‘microphones’.
Published on whistleblowing website WikiLeaks on March 7, the leaked documents exposed a ‘joint workshop’ between America’s CIA and Britain’s MI5 held in June 2014.
A program, named Weeping Angel, was created that allowed spies to gain control of the Samsung F8000 range of internet-connected televisions (pictured).
The documents alleged that MI5 created a “fake off” mode, leading users to believe the TV was switched off, when in fact, the TVs built-in microphone – used for voice-activated controls – would record conversations, which were then transmitted to a CIA operative.
A total of 8,761 CIA documents were published on WikiLeaks, which also showed software allegedly developed by the CIA, in collaboration with UK Government’s listening agency GCHQ, to hack into smartphones, computers and cars.
WikiLeaks claimed the CIA was able to circumvent encryption codes and accused it of exploiting glitches in the technology that the original manufacturer or designer isn’t yet aware of – called ‘zero days’ – to hack into devices.
WikiLeaks also accused the US government of failing to abide by a commitment to tell technology companies of any identified vulnerabilities, instead “hoarding” weaknesses for use by spy agencies.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is evading arrest, said: “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’.”
Responding to the hacks, a spokesperson for Samsung said: “Protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung. We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter.”
Heather Fritz Hornial, a CIA spokeswoman, said: “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”
According to The Telegraph, UK security services declined to comment, but Whitehall sources stressed that spies have to act within a strict legal framework in the fight against hostile states, terrorists and organised criminals.