Hacked “Smart TVs” Used to Spy on Unwitting Viewers
By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, March 15, 2017
ffj file photo, David Deschesne
In a recent Wikileaks ‘Vault 7’ data dump that hacked Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) central computers, citizen-researchers have confirmed the CIA is using microphones in so-called “Smart” TVs to illegally spy on people’s conversations without their knowledge, or a search warrant.
The leaks show that a project codenamed Weeping Angel was developed by the CIA to hack Samsung’s F8000 range of smart TVs and trick the user into thinking the sets were turned off. The TV sets would then be infected to covertly record audio and send that information over the Internet to CIA servers once the TVs were turned back on and a Wi-Fi connection was re-established.
Samsung has confirmed that its “smart TV” sets are listening to customers' every word, and the company is warning customers not to speak about personal information while near the TV sets. They revealed that the voice activation feature on its smart TVs will capture all nearby conversations. The TV sets can share the information, including sensitive data, with Samsung as well as third-party services.
“Under a “future work” section, it is suggested that video snapshots might also be taken and the Wi-Fi limitation be overcome,” reports the BBC. Even for TVs that are not “Smart” or able to be connected to the internet, conventional cell phone transponders may be employed to link the TV's internal microphone back to either the manufacturer, or - via a hack - to the CIA.
Microphones and video cameras were installed on cell phones, Ipads and computers as convenience devices and later, on TVs. Their initial covert use was to listen for keywords in conversations for the purposes of targeting user-specific advertising content either while surfing the internet, or watching television programs on their “Smart” TV. However, the data that can be covertly mined via such technology was too much of a temptation for government trolls to leave well enough alone.
Leading the alternate media in exposing such breaches in privacy has been Alex Jones’ Infowars.com. Eleven years ago, when Jones first started reporting on covert microphones in consumer devices, the mainstream media reflexively branded him a “conspiracy theorist” in order to prop up the government’s position and deflect attention away from the truth.
“In a September 2006 article entitled, Government, Industry To Use Computer Microphones To Spy On 150 Million Americans, myself and Alex Jones described how, ‘Private industry and eventually government is planning to use microphones in the computers of an estimated 150 million-plus Internet active Americans to spy on their lifestyle choices and build psychological profiles which will be used for surveillance and minority report style invasive advertising and data mining,’” wrote Paul Joseph Watson, from Infowars.com. “We warned that all Americans would become, ‘potential targets for secret surveillance and the subsequent sell-off of all their information to unscrupulous data mining corporations and government agencies,’ and that having initially been pioneered by private companies, ‘the use and abuse of this technology will eventually be taken over by the state.’”
The government snooping intrusion doesn’t stop with the hacked TVs. Virtually all cell phones are capable of listening to room conversations - even when turned off. All computers now have microphones and video cameras to allow people to use online chatting services, such as “Skype.” But this gives the government a direct, uninterrupted pipeline into a person’s home and private affairs, allowing them to covertly eavesdrop on all people within a close proximity to the electronic device. It’s all illegal and it’s all covert—nothing new here, for this government, so just move along folks.
Schools have even been caught using the video cameras and microphones in their government-issued laptops and Ipads to spy on students at home. Any IT person within the school can instantly turn on the devices’ video cameras and microphones to watch the children at home, in their bedrooms, or wherever they happen to be with their school-issued computer or similar device. Since many school systems across the country have adopted a cloud-based platform on Google, the private, world-wide snooping search engine troll now has intimate access into the private lives of millions of school children without their parents’ knowledge or approval.
“On Tuesday, Wikileaks released thousands of documents that prove what virtually every ‘conspiracy theorist’ in America has been saying for years about government spying,” wrote Michael Snyder, from FreedomOutpost.com. “And I don’t even like to use the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ much, because the truth is that most ‘conspiracy theorists’ are simply citizen journalists [who] are attempting to expose things that the mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about. And one of the things that the mainstream media has always been hesitant to address is the unconstitutional surveillance that U.S. intelligence agencies systematically conduct on their own citizens.”
Snyder continues, “But now the mainstream media is being forced to talk about government surveillance because Wikileaks has just exposed it for all the world to see. According to Wikileaks, the CIA has been secretly running ‘its own NSA with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.’ It is known as the Central Intelligence Agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, and it has produced ‘more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other ‘weaponized’ malware.’ In fact, the computer or phone that you are reading this article on may be infected with one of their programs right now.”
In addition to Smart TVs, the cable TV industry has been employing covert microphones in their cable boxes for years, as well. Truly the only way to get government spooks out of your house in this day and age is to get rid of your cell phones - all of them - and go back to a landline phone. Even though the landline can be eavesdropped on while you’re talking (and all phone conversations are illegally recorded by government now, anyway) it will at least be more difficult for government to use that device to eavesdrop on room conversations. As for computers and electronic devices, place a piece of black duct tape over your laptop’s video camera and microphone (or have a computer technician physically disconnect them from the circuitry), cancel your cable TV service and to stop using televisions that can be plugged in to the internet. If you must watch some TV for entertainment, use the older models without microphones or video cameras in them, and only watch DVDs of your favorite shows or movies.
At this point in time, the only people who truly can’t be covertly and illegally monitored by some government spook in Langley, Virginia are the Amish and people who live that lifestyle.
The cell phone—especially “Smart Phones”—are treasure troves of audio and video government eavesdropping. Everything those devices “hear” and the GPS location where it was said is recorded to a government database—whether they’re turned on, or not. In fact, they are always “on” and always listening as long as there is a functioning battery in them. In addition to government eavesdropping devices, cell phones also bathe their users’ skulls in a sea of close proximity microwave radiation. The best thing you can do with your cell phone is smash it to pieces with a hammer (I recommend a 3-pound sledge hammer) and never replace it. FFJ photo