Samsung smartTVs don’t encrypt voice and text data

Pierluigi Paganini February 22, 2015

Samsung smartTV send unencrypted voice recognition data and text information across the Internet without encrypt it, allowing hackers to capture them.

A few days ago I was one of the first to publish the news about the Samsung privacy policy that reports smartTV are sending user voice data to third parties.

“Samsung SmartTV transmits data to a third party, be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information.” I wrote in my previous post.

Another discovery is concerning the owner of Samsung smartTVs, the devices, in fact, send users’ voice searches and data over the internet unencrypted, this means that a bad actor could snoop it. The Samsung SmartTV also sends other information about the TV and user without encryption.

In response to the numerous request for information on the privacy policy, Samsung replied that it adopts “industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use,” but this last discovery seems to contradict it.

When a user sends a vocal command to make a search on the Internet using the Samsung smartTV, the audio is sent across the internet to a voice recognition service that interprets the speech and return the results via the TV display. Samsung uses the voice recognition system developed by the company Nuance to interpret voice command sent by the users.

A security researcher discovered that, both the audio command and the text results returned aren’t encrypted. As a consequence, an attacker can snoop on user’s voice and intercept text.

The Security researcher David Lodge from Pen Test Partners tested a Samsung UE46ES8000 smartTV and discovered that the results of his voice recognition for the spoken word ‘Samsung’ were sent over the internet in plain text.

“What we can see is it sending a load of information over the wire about the TV, I can see its MAC address and the version of the OS in use. After the word buffer_id is a load of binary data, which looks audio-ish.”  wrote Lodge in a blog post. “You can make out that it thinks I’ve said either Samsung, Samson or Samsong” .

Samsung SmartTV security issue

A hacker could be able to spy on Samsung SmartTV user by accessing to its Wireless Lan traffic, but the security issues open the doors also to surveillance activities that could be operated by persistent attackers (e.g. Intelligence agencies) that could access user traffic directly from internet service providers or with access to the Internet backbones.

Stay Tuned for further information …

(Security Affairs –  privacy , Samsung SmartTV)

you might also like

leave a comment