NEW YORK—New televisions have built-in cameras so users can use online video chat, yet these cameras have almost no security. New York Senator Charles Schumer warned on Sunday that hackers can access these cameras and spy on people in their homes, and sent a letter to TV manufacturers urging them to create uniform security standards for Smart TVs.
“You expect to watch TV, but you don’t want the TV watching you,” Schumer said in a release.
While computers have security standards, including firewalls and other systems to block intrusions, TVs have next to nothing for security, he said. “That’s why manufacturers should do everything possible to create a standard of security in their internet-connected products.”
At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas last week, security researcher SeungJin “Beist” Lee demonstrated how to hack smart TVs during a presentation, “Hacking, Surveilling, and Deceiving Victims On Smart TV.”
Lee noted in the presentation description that more than 80 million Smart TVs were sold around the world in 2012, and they “have almost the exact same attack vectors that PC and Smart Phones have.”
Schumer’s letter to TV manufacturers comes on the heels of the demonstration. He asked them to create a security standard that all manufacturers can follow.
“It is imperative that we protect people that purchase televisions with these features from being hacked or spied on, and possibly divulging information they do not desire to,” Schumer states in the letter.
So far, manufacturers have suggested putting tape over the camera, or unplugging the TVs when they’re not in use, according to the release.