Samsung Smart TVs vulnerable to JavaScript hacking, researchers find

Security flaws in Skype app

The rise of the Internet-connected Smart TVs could be exposing consumers to unexpected security threats thanks to a raft of vulnerabilities buried in their operating software, two researchers told the Black Hat conference last week.

According to Aaron Grattafiori and Josh Yavor of iSEC Partners, Smart TVs were open to a variety of compromises in the Linux platform, the webkit-based browser running atop this, and the bundled Internet apps.

These flaws could allow attackers to access any data stored on the systems generated by browsing activities as well as manipulate webcams to conduct surveillance.

Integrated apps for systems such as Skype or Facebook were also obvious targets which they demonstrated using remote a JavaScript code injection exploit to access a user's credentials.

Possibly the most extraordinary discovery was text messages created within the Skype app were treated as code. This allowed them to send JavaScript that would be executed by the software, taking control of the application. Malicious JavaScript could also be buried invisibly on a website visited by the browser.

The attack was demonstrated against Samsung Smart TV but could also in principle be used against other makes of Smart TV as well, they said.

The problems are theoretical for now. Very few TVs contain yet contain enough data that would be useful to an attacker let alone technology such as webcams to be hijacked. On the other hand, neither do Smart TVs (basically the entire TV market going forward) come with any form security that could detect an attack if it did occur.

Meanwhile, the makers of Smart TVs aren't obviously geared up to patch software should such a thing ever be necessary. TVs can receive over-the-air (OTA) updates that are slow or more rapid Internet-based updates but both options require the infrastructure to connect to possibly millions of TV sets as if they were computers.

"Because the TV only has a single user any type of compromise into an application or into Smart Hub, which is the operating system the smarts of the TV has the same permission as every user, which is, you can do everything and anything, "Grattafiori told Mashable.

On a positive note, Samsung had been "very responsive" to the research when contacted by Grattafiori and Yavor earlier this year, developing a patch in advance of the Black Hat presentation.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Personal TechskypesecurityFacebook

More about FacebookLinuxSamsungSkypeSmart

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts