Certain models of Samsung smart TVs are vulnerable to a CIA hack, WikiLeaks has claimed
WikiLeaks has released Year Zero, the first part of a new series of leaks on the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Vault 7 is said to be “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency”, with Year Zero compromising 8,761 documents and files.
One of the allegations included in the files is that the CIA has developed a smart TV hack codenamed Weeping Angel.
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The hack reportedly turns selected Samsung TV models into spy “bugs” which record audio and possibly video footage.
WikiLeaks, which was founded by Julian Assange, said in a statement: “The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS.
“After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake Off' mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on.
“In 'Fake Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the internet to a covert CIA server.”
Julian Assange is the founder and editor of WikiLeaks
How to tell if your Samsung TV has been hacked
To tell if your TV is in Fake Off mode, check the back of the set for a blue LED.
According to WikiLeaks, Fake Off powers down the screen and the changes the LED lights on the front of the set to make it appear switched off, but leaves a tell-tale blue LED on the back of the set switched on.
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The Vault 7 documents refer to a “USB installation method”, suggesting that CIA agents would need physical access to a TV to install Weeping Angel.
However, security researcher Matthew Hickey has said that it is possible that the CIA harvest information remotely.
He told Forbes: “Effectively they install an application onto your TV through USB, they go away on their spying business and come back with a Wi-Fi hotspot later on.
“When the TV sees the CIA Wi-Fi, it uploads all of the captured audio it has recorded of people around the TV, even when they thought it was off.”
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Which TVs are affected?
The Weeping Angel hack is said to only apply to a specific group of Samsung TVs made in 2012 and 2013, running a very old firmware version.
The following models are thought to be vulnerable to Weeping Angel:
From 2012: UNES8000F, E8000GF plasma, and UNES7550F.
From 2013: UNF8000 series, F8500 plasma, UNF7500 series, and UNF7000 series.
The hack is thought to apply only to TVs running firmware versions 1111, 1112, and 1116.
Affected TVs are said to record audio and possible video
How to stop the CIA from hacking your TV
The Vault 7 documents suggest that TVs which have been updated to the most recent firmware version (1118) can not be hacked.
“Updating firmware over internet may remove implant (not tested) or portions of the implant,” the WikiLeaks files read.
“Firmware version 1118+ eliminated the current USB installation method.”
To check which firmware version your TV is running and to update it – go to the main menu, choose support and the software update.