WikiLeaks’ release of secret CIA documents includes a lot of detail on the exact methods the agency has been allegedly using to hack various devices including the tool created to hack Samsung smart TVs, which turned them into covert microphones.
The CIA called the hack “Weeping Angel.”
I rather hate that my most beloved fandom is being referenced for spy work. In case you didn’t know, Weeping Angels are one of the many villains on Doctor Who, known for their ability to move incredibly fast and snatched up your existence as long as no one is looking at them. As soon as you lock your gaze in their direction, they freeze, unable to move, resembling statues.
According to WikiLeaks, the specific hack involves putting the Samsung TV in “Fake-Off” mode, meaning the TV looks off, but is really on, leaving the microphone engaged so the hacker can listen to anyone within earshot of the TV. That makes the TV most dangerous when no one is actually watching it — just like the Weeping Angels.
WikiLeaks alleges the CIA developed the tool with MI5, Britain’s equivalent of the FBI, which probably explains where the name came from since Doctor Who is more than just a television show in Britain; it’s part of their culture.
That being said, they can’t actually hack your television remotely. They’d have to physically enter your home and put a USB device directly into your smart TV. If you want to double check that you’re not being spied on via television, a simple unplugging or removal of unusual USB devices that you didn’t place there yourself should do the trick.
I’m cool with the CIA making geeky references, but can you not use it for the purpose of spying on citizens? Thanks!