Samsung TV sets can be remotely disabled by the vendor using a built-in feature dubbed TV Block.
The company revealed the capability to disable any device worldwide in a press release issued earlier this month in response to the numerous looting that impacted Samsung warehouses and stores in July following South African riots.
Samsung Electronics’ warehouse in KwaZulu-Natal was pillaged, while the Durban plant has remained intact due to enhanced security features.
“Samsung South Africa has announced the implementation of a Television Block Function on all Samsung TV sets. The blocking system is intended to be implemented in respect of televisions that have been obtained by users through unlawful means and in some cases, stolen from the Samsung warehouses. TV Block is a remote, security solution that detects if Samsung TV units have been unduly activated, and ensures that the television sets can only be used by the rightful owners with a valid proof of purchase.” reads the press release published by the Korean company. “The aim of the technology is to mitigate against the creation of secondary markets linked to the sale of illegal goods, both in South Africa and beyond its borders. This technology is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products.”
According to the vendor, the TV Block feature could remotely disable a device by using its serial number, this means that TV sets stolen during looting cannot be used.
The revelation is disconcerting, in a theoretical attack scenario, a threat actor could compromise the company servers and block any device worldwide.
A TV is blocked immediately after its first connection to the internet because it attempts to contact the Samsung server that maintains a list of the serial numbers of the television that were stolen.
In case a TV set is incorrectly blocked, the functionality can be reinstated after the user has provided proof of purchase and a valid TV license to email@example.com.
“In keeping with our values to leverage the power of technology to resolve societal challenges, we will continuously develop and expand strategic products in our consumer electronics division with defence-grade security, purpose-built, with innovative and intuitive business tools designed for a new world. This technology can have a positive impact at this time, and will also be of use to both the industry and customers in the future,“said Mike Van Lier, Director of Consumer Electronics at Samsung South Africa.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, TV Block)