Belfast Telegraph

Samsung probes WikiLeaks' smart TV spying claims

Samsung is "urgently" investigating claims from WikiLeaks that intelligence agencies have used the firm's smart TVs as part of tools to spy on users.

The whistleblowing website has published thousands of documents it claims reveal the various hacking tools used by the CIA in the US, including techniques which target various consumer software, including Windows, Google's Android and Apple's iOS software.

The leaked report also claims software was developed to turn Samsung smart TVs into listening devices, a project codenamed Weeping Angel which the report claims also included input from the UK's MI5.

The Korean technology giant has now said it is investigating the claims made by WikiLeaks.

"Protecting consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung," the company said in a statement.

"We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter."

The leaked documents claim a "fake-off" mode was created which tricked users into believing their TV screen was off when instead it was secretly recording audio that would be sent to CIA servers once the screen was turned back on and an internet connection re-established.

Many modern, internet-connected TVs come with voice control options, meaning a microphone is placed inside the device in order to pick up voice commands issued by users.

In 2015, Samsung warned users not to speak of "personal or sensitive information" within listening distance of some its smart TVs as that information "will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party" after it emerged that, once activated, the voice control feature would "listen" to what was being said and share it with Samsung or third parties.

Apple also responded to the report by reiterating its stance on consumer privacy, but it also urged users to ensure their devices are running the most up-to-date software to ensure their security.

"Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy and security," the iPhone maker said in a statement.

"The technology built into today's iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we're constantly working to keep it that way.

"Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80% of users running the latest version of our operating system.

"While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.

"We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates."

Google declined to comment on WikiLeaks' claims.

The Home Office said it does not comment on intelligence matters or leaked documents.