Samsung Raises Malware Alert for Smart TVs

John Lister's picture

Samsung has warned owners of its Smart TV ranges to run virus checks. It then quickly deleted the warning after a negative response online.

The company posted on Twitter with a 19 second video showing how to access a sub-menu that would start a virus scan. The post read:

"Scanning your computer for malware viruses is important to keep it running smoothly. This also is true for your QLED TV if it's connected to WiFi! Prevent malicious software attacks on your TV by scanning for viruses on your TV every few weeks. Here's how."

The video showed that users needed to go through no fewer than 11 button presses to navigate the menus and trigger the scan. It's not clear if the scan option was added in a recent software update, or if it has been there for some time and Samsung realized people were not aware of it.

Samsung Tight-Lipped

Samsung deleted the tweet right around the time journalists began asking if a specific malware threat had inspired it to make the warning. It didn't address that question in reply, simply saying it was "posted for customers' education." (Source:

In theory, a Smart TV could be vulnerable to malware in the same way as computers and similar devices: it runs an operating system and is connected to the Internet. Indeed, previous independent research has found dozens of bugs on Samsung sets that could be exploited. (Source:

However, there's no clear evidence that hackers are actively targeting sets, mainly because in most cases there's little reason to do so. Outside of purely malicious attacks, most smart sets don't have much data to share other than what programming and apps people use.

Microphones Could Be Target

Possible exceptions might be some Samsung models that have a built-in microphone for voice control and some apps that let users type in or even store payment details for video on demand services.

In any case, Samsung's approach doesn't seem that effective. It's highly unlikely the average user is going to bother or even remember to manually run virus checks at regular intervals. Instead it would make much more sense for Samsung to update the operating system to run automatically in the background.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you own a 'Smart' television? Have you ever given any thought to it being hit by malware? Would you bother running scans if you had one of these sets?

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Focused100's picture

This post reminds me of an article last year that warned smart TV users NOT to click yes on a screen that told them if they did click it, ALL their viewing habits would be reported to advertisers.

Of course the message actually said their watching would allow the "Cloud" to send them recommendations on what else to watch.

From the article:
Samba TV is one of the bigger companies that track viewer information to make personalized show recommendations. The company said it collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, and it has raised $40 million in venture funding from investors including Time Warner , the cable operator Liberty Global and the billionaire Mark Cuban.

Samba TV has struck deals with roughly a dozen TV brands — including Sony, Sharp, TCL and Philips — to place its software on certain sets. When people set up their TVs, a screen urges them to enable a service called Samba Interactive TV, saying it recommends shows and provides special offers “by cleverly recognizing onscreen content.” But the screen, which contains the enable button, does not detail how much information Samba TV collects to make those recommendations.

Samba TV declined to provide recent statistics, but one of its executives said at the end of 2016 that more than 90 percent of people opted in.

Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on Netflix and HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watch conservative or liberal media outlets and which party’s presidential debate they watched.