Hackers making their way into your TV


Caleb Stepper, Staff Reporter

In January 2018, a major security breach puts next-generation printers and smart TVs at risk. Two hackers by the false names of  j3ws3r and HackerGiraffe revealed that smart TVs and printers exposed to the internet can be remotely accessed. While the duo’s attacks were mainly harmless, they showed that malicious attacks were just around the corner.

The duo gained access to the devices by searching for different open ports typically used by printers and smart tv’s. These ports are usually accessible by only authorized users. But often times are left open by accident or laziness.

Hacks such as these spark debates on the security of wireless internet. When asked if companies should continue to use wireless ports, teacher Jordan Slavish stated, “I think physical tech support is unreliable and inconvenient. But with convenience comes the cost of security.”

Close to 50,000 smart tv’s in the US were accessed by the duo. Their attacks forced the devices to play a message and propaganda video, petitioning the owner of the device to subscribe to the famous youtuber PewDiePie.

While the duo’s attack was fairly innocent, more malicious attacks are possible. We asked physical science teacher Brittany Hartmann for her opinion on her devices safety. Hartmann discussed how for her situation she isn’t worried, as a high school science teacher she doesn’t have anything to hide and isn’t worried about the hacks. Additionally, she described how “if [she] was in a more [critical] government position, she could understand how the security breaches could be a larger issue.”

Previously in November of 2018, the dynamic duo hacked 50,000 printers. Like the tv’s, these printers were forced to print out propaganda for PewDiePie. HackerGiraffe didn’t spend much effort to break into all of the printers. All that was required was access to a search engine known as Shodan and some basic hacker skills.

Shodan is a search engine that allows users to search for various internet connected things. Shodan searches the internet for ports instead of the web. Services run on ports, that they announce themselves with a banner. The banner, publicly declares to the internet what services it offers and how to interact with it.

Should these devices put customer convenience over customer security? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.