Samsung to investigate claims CIA hacked its smart TVs to spy on viewers

Can your TV spy on you? It can according to Wikileaks. The whistleblowing website has released a fresh trove of documents that purportedly expose spying methods used by the CIA in the US and MI5 in the UK. And Samsung's smart TVs play a key part.

According to Wikileaks, special software can enable Samsung smart TVs to act as microphones, recording viewers' conversations without their knowledge. In a project called 'Weeping Angel' (named after the creatures from Doctor Who), the software would activate a 'fake off' mode that fooled viewers into thinking the TV was switched off. It fact, it was doing the agencies' work and bugging them.

Once the TV was switched back on and an internet connection re-established, the captured audio file would allegedly be sent to the CIA's servers. Samsung says it is "urgently" investigating the claims.

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In a statement to ITV News, the Korean company said: "Protecting our consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority. We are urgently looking into the matter."

Lots of smart TVs and internet-connected streaming boxes contain microphones to allow voice control. However, this means they could also be used to record users' conversations.

Apple was also named in the data released by Wikileaks, with smartphones also thought to have been hacked. "Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy and security," the company said in a statement. "While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue to work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities."

It said users could protect themselves by always running the latest software, which contains the most up-to-date security patches.

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