Home / #Solutions / WikiLeaks Just Exposed the CIA for Hacking TVs, Here’s How To See If They Got Yours

WikiLeaks Just Exposed the CIA for Hacking TVs, Here’s How To See If They Got Yours

Earlier this week, WikiLeaks released what it claims to be the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. This dump is the apparent motherlode, which the transparency organization allegedly obtained from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley. It involves a massive cache of data ranging from the years 2013-2016, and details insidious CIA hacking and spying practices — including the practice of listening to you through your TV.

This most ominous technique, profiled by WikiLeaks in Vault 7, aptly named “Weeping Angel” (a Doctor Who reference), was developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB). It is a cyber weapon that infests smart TV’s and transforms them into microphones.

As WikiLeaks reports, after infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

As Claire Bernish writes, for years, cybersecurity and technology experts, as well as privacy and rights advocates, have admonished the public to beware the convenience proffered by devices linked to the Internet of Things — described by Jacob Morgan in Fortune as “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.  This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.”

There is good news, however. You can tell if your TV is spying on you.

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Unless you are a known operative or dabble in any business the CIA finds of interest — ahem — like running cocaine, it is not particularly likely they are listening to you through your TV. That being said, however — because of the CIA’s irresponsible methods in developing this technology — hackers could very easily employ this exact method.

Thanks to the great minds at Wired.com, we now know how to check for this hack — even if it’s unlikely — just for peace of mind.

The Telltale LED


In Fake Off mode, the screen appears off and the LEDs on the front of the set change color and dim, as you’d expect if you’d turned off your TV. Yet the TV remains powered and capable of recording conversations. Want to know if Big Brother is listening in? Look at the back of your set. The blue LED back there should be off. It remains illuminated in Fake Off mode, according to the documents WikiLeaks released.


Which TVs?


If you’ve got a Samsung from 2012 or 2013, check to see if you’ve got one of these models: From 2012: UNES8000F, E8000GF plasma, and UNES7550F. From 2013: UNF8000 series, F8500 plasma, UNF7500 series, and UNF7000 series. To determine your firmware version and to update it, go to the main menu, select Support, then select Software Update.


It is possible the CIA has updated Fake Off mode to address the telltale LED, and it’s possible Samsung changed the LED on subsequent models. But the company acknowledged in 2015 that hackers could compromise the voice-control feature in some sets, and it took steps at the time to patch the problem.

Since it is possible that the CIA may have updated its unscrupulous tactics, there is a sure-fire way to make sure your TV is not spying on you. Coincidentally, it also happens to be a very healthy practice — unplug the damned thing — go on a walk, go camping, go canoeing, go outside to detach yourself from this digital world and feel human again. 

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. , Steemit, and now on Facebook.

    I am not a terrorist. I am not a drug dealer. I object to these nosey Authoritarian bastards pilfering through my private communications. What does it take to get them out? Fight, money..WHAT?

  • ties

    The CIA is not for the American people the last President we had that was for the American people was Kennedy and Bush and the CIA killed him…. The CIA works for the EU and NATO Globalists and there open border and there One World Order agenda where the people will not get a vote

    • FiuToYou

      Trump is for the people whether you can see it or not. He’s the only one since JFK!!!

      • ties

        I agree that is what I was saying….

  • They must be pretty damned hard up for entertainment is they are listening to my house. other than the tv shows, talking to my animals-no other humans here, on phone for medical most the phone time or checking on the other elderly family and friends, my life is pretty boring. the biggest highlight is criticizing politicians and their ignorance/greed against the planet and every other living thing on earth and if that is a threat to them, they are beyond paranoid and in need of some serious mental help.
    Even my home security repair person said he has refused to install their newest wall panels as they have listening devices in them he feels are too invasive on their customers. I have the system for the fire and medical emergency devices just in case the CIA thinks that is a threat to them, now they can turn off their microphones and instead, they should be working on the entire Trump family. Now that IS a threat to the entire world.

  • Bob Btme

    canoeing, we’ll all be doing lots of that after the 70 foot sea level rise

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  • Quest

    How can we be sure this isn’t like the Y2K computer bullshit just https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49d513f27cd2f7f005afce045436fd27342e7d7d43446978e58b72c472012cad.jpg to sell people new TVs ?

  • AttilatheBlond

    Thinking of printing this up & taking to the whiz kids that work at BEST. We recently had our TV die and went there for a new one. Told the sales person we wanted one with an old school remote, without voice recognition. Yes, we like Samsung products. All the flat screens sold now are internet capable but we use our Roku box and not that feature. When 19-ish sales person asked why we didn’t want a voice activated model, we explained that we had read those could monitor conversations in the room and we didn’t feel like spending several hundred dollars to make it more easier for govt agencies to eavesdrop on up. He chuckled and said ‘Well, if you insist on reading Right Wing conspiracy sites, yeah, you might have seen that….’ We came back another day and bought a TV from someone who did keep up on actual tech news and wasn’t a jerk.

  • Keri Masse

    Wow, I saw nowhere in the #Vault7 documents that said or showed the CIA actually used this technology. Do they have the ability to do so? Probably, but if the CIA does that means any tech company, or other intelligence agency could as well. Could this be a means for doing counter intelligence? Yes, that’s possible to. This article thankfully mentions that it’s very easy to stop the “listening” t.v. by simply unplugging it. Why would the CIA put any faith or use technology to gather information that can so easily be diverted? They would also need to put a USB stick in your t.v. in order to use it.

    I hoped that the title of this article was sarcastic. Apparently though, the Freethought Project isn’t into skeptical thinking or hard research.