Bad Actor: With Update, LG Says No Monitoring, No Smart TV!

Customers of consumer electronics giant LG are raising alarm about a recent software update that asks owners to agree to have their viewing behavior tracked and monitored, or see their ‘smart’ TVs made dumb: with access to features like YouTube and Netflix disabled. Owners of some models of LG brand SmartTVs who have applied a recent firmware have taken to blogs to complain about a firmware update for their TVs that prompt them to agree to lengthy new Terms of Service and Privacy Agreements. The revised documents grant LG permission to monitor and record their viewing habits and their interactions with the device, including voice commands. Users who do not agree to the new terms find many of their smart TV features disabled, according to customer testimony and an analysis by one independent IT researcher. The prompt to read and accept a new “Legal Notice,” “Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy” appears when SmartTV users first […]


CES: The Security Questions Nobody Wants You To Ask

A note that CES – the Consumer Electronics Show – is once again upon us. Prepare yourself for three or four days of tipsy reporting from the mainstream media about all the gee whiz gadgets that will soon be yours…or not. Let’s face it: a lot of what’s shown at CES is proof of concept stuff and some of it is just too downright silly to ever catch on. Remember HAPIFork? The “smart” fork that would warn you when you were shoveling grub into your maw too quickly? Right. Product security and data privacy are almost always lost in the excitement over the new gadgets and the TUSs. (Televisions of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist!) That’s why, over on the Veracode blog, I put together a quick list of impertinent questions that every security-minded CES attendee should have at their fingertips. The questions cover a wide range of […]

Open Source IoT Platform Would Boost Security

Interoperability (or the lack of it) stands out as one of the major obstacles to the expansion of the Internet of Things. As we’ve discussed on this blog, the lack of a common platform for Internet-enabled devices to communicate on has resulted in a balkanized IoT landscape. Nest’s smart thermometer and smoke detector communicate and share information famously, but if you want to link them with some smart appliance from GE or LG, you’re out of luck. But that may soon be changing. On Tuesday, The Linux Foundation announced a new, cross industry consortium of major IT infrastructure makers, software vendors and electronics firms. The AllSeen Alliance is tasked with developing a common, open source platform that allows hardware and software firms to unite their creations, regardless of their brand – and provide basic security features, to boot. The Alliance counts electronics giants like Panasonic, Qualcomm, LG and Sharp as […]

Fix From LG Ends Involuntary SmartTV Snooping, But Privacy Questions Remain

The electronics firm LG issued a software update for some “Smart TV” models that were discovered spying on owners, but the company still faces scrutiny over its privacy policy. The company issued a firmware update for its LG 42LN575V model television sets, which were the subject of scrutiny last week after a UK-based technology consultant using the handle “DoctorBeet” discovered that his LG television was transmitting information about his viewing habits to company servers without his consent. The blogger, “DoctorBeet” (aka Jason Huntley, of Yorkshire, England) first wrote about his discovery on November 18, setting off a small firestorm of controversy. An analysis by Huntley uncovered a number of sketchy or outright illegal data harvesting behaviors. Among them: His LG television sent information on which channels he viewed to an LG-owned web domain. (The domain in question was not in service at the time.) The LG television relayed information on […]