Samsung is “urgently” investigating claims that intelligence agencies have used its smart televisions as part of a spying programme.
Wikileaks has published thousands of documents it says are from the Central Intelligence Agency as part of its mysterious Year Zero series.
It claims British spy agencies worked with the CIA to turn televisions and smart phones into bugging devices that could record conversations and even take pictures.
But it claims the programme went further than just TVs and included Windows, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS software.
One programme, called Weeping Angel, reportedly allowed spies to gain control of the Samsung F8000 range of internet-connected televisions. It was developed in a ‘joint workshop’ held in June 2014 involving MI5 and the CIA and enabled the agencies to gain control of the TV, according to the documents.
In total, WikiLeaks published 8,761 documents, claiming it to be the largest ever release of CIA files in its history.
It even claimed the CIA was using hacked mobile phones and vehicle control systems in modern cars to carry out assassinations, and make them look like accidents.
A statement from Samsung said: “Protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung.
“We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter.”
the leaked documents claim a ‘fake-off’ mode was created which tricked users into believing their TV screen was off when instead it was secretly recording audio that would be sent to the CIA once the screen was turned back on and an internet connection re-established.
Many modern, internet-connected TVs come with voice control options, meaning a microphone is placed inside the device in order to pick up voice commands issued by users.
In 2015, Samsung warned users not to speak of “personal or sensitive information” within listening distance of some its smart TVs as that information “will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party”.
Wikileaks said: “Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.
“This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.
“The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
The CIA declined to comment while experts said the documents, generated by the agency’s Engineering Development Group, between 2013 and 2016, seemed genuine.