How your LG Smart TV can spy on you

LG Smart TVThere's a fascinating blog post by "DoctorBeet", which anyone who owns an LG Smart TV should probably read.

It turns out that your LG Smart TV might be silently logging what channels you watch, and when you switch channel - sending the data back to the South Korean company so it can target you with advertisements.

And, surprise surprise, the data is sent in an unencrypted format.

DoctorBeet, a UK computer enthusiast, stumbled across the "feature" while fiddling with the settings on his LG Smart TV.

Astonishingly, DoctorBeet subsequently discovered by examining network traffic that his TV was reporting information about his viewing habits back to LG *regardless* of whether he had the system option "Collection of watching info" enabled or not.

LG options screen. Source: DoctorBeet

LG options screen. Source: DoctorBeet

Here is the reply that DoctorBeet got back from LG's helpdesk when he asked them to comment on the enforced data collection and profiling of customers:

The advice we have been given is that unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer. We understand you feel you should have been made aware of these T's and C's at the point of sale, and for obvious reasons LG are unable to pass comment on their actions.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us again.

In what will concern the privacy-conscious even more, DoctorBeet discovered that his LG Smart TV was also attempting to send the names of media files accessed on TV-connected USB sticks back to the television manufacturer.

DoctorBeet tested this by creating a file called Midget_Porn_2013.avi, shoving it on a USB thumb drive he stuck into his TV, and accessing the media content.

Media content test. Source: DoctorBeet

Media content test. Source: DoctorBeet

Sure enough, network traffic suggested that the TV was attempting to share information about the file being watched via the internet.

Network traffic mentioning "Midget_Porn_2013.avi". Source: DoctorBeet

Network traffic mentioning "Midget_Porn_2013.avi". Source: DoctorBeet

In September, The Register reported that LG had struck a deal with Cognitive Networks to serve targeted adverts, based upon an analysis of the images shown on the TV screen - but this does not appear to be connected to the option setting that DoctorBeet has uncovered.

Clearly LG is very keen to monetise the millions of TV it has out there with targeted advertising. But if consumers are not clearly warned of the feature, and given a method of turning it off, the most sensible choice may be to choose a different manufacturer for your TV viewing.

Learn more on DoctorBeet's blog, including a list of domains that you could block on your router, to prevent data being transmitted by your smart TV.

Do you have an LG Smart TV? Were you aware it was collecting information about your TV viewing habits? Leave a comment below, telling us your thoughts.

Further reading: LG says it will push out firmware update for spy TVs, but fails to apologise

See also: LG fumbles response to Smart TV spying revelation, withdraws Smart Ad video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Subscribe to the free GCHQ newsletter

, , , , , ,

Special offers & deals


  • Fancy becoming an ethical hacker?

    Fancy becoming an ethical hacker?

    Save 98% off the regular price and take advantage of IT Security & Ethical Hacking Certification Training for just $29. This course lays out a successful career path for you in the world of computer security.
  • PureVPN - 85% off!

    PureVPN - 85% off!

    Make sure your personal data and online activity aren't exposed. Encrypt your internet traffic and cover your tracks with PureVPN. Works with your PCs, Macs, iPhones, Androids, routers, gaming consoles, and Smart TVs. Connect up to 5 devices at once at top speeds.

More deals...

Leave a reply

11 Comments on "How your LG Smart TV can spy on you"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Miguel Valentin
Visitor
November 20, 2013 1:41 pm

So, Graham…what CAN we do to prevent this?? Any suggestions??

Spryte
Visitor
Spryte
November 20, 2013 6:12 pm

Since I have never had any good luck with any Lucky Goldstar product they really would not be on my shopping list.
However I will be on guard for my next 'smart' purchase… As many manufacturers are making Smart TVs, and some are made by Lucky Goldstar, we must ask who else is doing this.

George
Visitor
George
November 21, 2013 6:14 pm

Hi I read about this whole saga this afternoon, having
bough an LG Smart TV about a month ago in france, from Amazon.fr.
At 15:00 I emailed them re this problem and asked for an immediate
uplift and credit for a device they had sold me that was spying on
me, and I also sent them the link to Dr Beet's original
article and the Sophos Labs article. At 15:30 Amazon PHONED me ( an
unheard of response ), and offered me a full refund no questions
asked, with a FOC FEDEX Collection. Unless you live in France you
will not be aware that responses from suppliers are generally
NEVER, at best very slow after many reminders, and the answer is
always "NON". So it seems Amazon.fr took this
seriously enough to jump about and react ! Thanks everyone for
bringing this nasty business to light !

Ruy Flávio de Oliveira
Visitor
November 25, 2013 5:33 pm

Every LG SmartTV owner should rename an innocuous movie as "Koo Bon-Moo f*cks a goat.avi". Koo Bon-Moo, beiung LG's CEO, would have a lot of incentive to shut down this invasion of privacy, I bet.

Robert
Visitor
Robert
November 25, 2013 8:36 pm

Thanks for the info. I don't own any LG product,
and it stays so! It is unbelievable. Bad enough to report what
channels I use to watch, but data from my USB… If
Orwell"s vision of 1984 is as correct as the Animal Farm,
our children will have a strange world to live in. Even we… I am
going to send a letter for my local MediaMarkt, Saturn, Tesco etc.
and ask them to remove ALL LG products until the responsible
managers are found and punished. By punish, I don't mean
laid off with a nice compensation. Where I grew up, one of the
worst thing what could happen, if the postman had opened
everybody's mail and sold the information… Can you
imagine that? And now, this is happening. Regards

Terry
Visitor
Terry
November 25, 2013 9:49 pm

For the router record:
GB.smartshare.lgtvsdp.com has address 193.67.216.135

Also:
Domain Name : lgtvsdp.com

Registrant::
Name : LG Electronics Inc
Email : domain@lge.com
Address : Seoul 20 Yoidodong Youngdungpogu
Zipcode : 150875
Nation : KR
Tel : 02-3777-3703

Graham C
Visitor
Graham C
January 8, 2014 9:19 am

A DNS lookup no longer resolves an address for
GB.smartshare.lgtvsdp.com However a google search of 193.67.216.135
shows the operating organisation as LG Electronics. More
interesting however is that the IP address is a spool operated by
the Internet Service Provider Verizon in the Netherlands, Strange
that a large organisation like LG should be hiding behind an ISP
when they surely must have their own IP subnet and server farm ???
Now it has been reported that Verizon is a connection node for the
NSA !!! Does the plot thicken ?? This is NOT Graham Cluley –
Another Graham C in Melbourne Australia

LGUser
Visitor
LGUser
August 14, 2014 3:14 pm

I was actually looking up if an LG Smart TV could get a virus and I was brought here. After seeing this I was kind of spooked so I went searching. It wasn't labled the way you had it so it took me a while to figure out where it was. Mine was labled as "Live Plus" and thankfully I have the option to turn it off. Btw, I thought LG ment Live Good or something of that nature…am I wrong?

Andrew
Visitor
Andrew
April 18, 2015 11:13 am

Hi
I Don't have either of those settings live plus or collection of data

maybe I have an updated tv

wpDiscuz