Samsung Bricks Smart TVs | Hackaday

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Early this fall, a Samsung warehouse in South Africa was robbed and the thieves got away with a bunch of smart TVs. Samsung has implemented a little-known feature called “TV Block” that is installed on all of its TV products. The serial numbers of the stolen TVs are marked on their servers and if one of these devices tries to connect to the internet in the future it will recognize that it has been stolen and proceed to block itself, thereby disabling all TV functionality.

So while this real-world scenario makes sense, it’s a bit alarming to see the ramifications of such a feature – the manufacturer can reach into your TV and disable it remotely. It is safe to assume that Samsung will not abuse this ability, as any other behavior would damage its reputation. In a press release, Samsung announced in a press release that consumers, whose sets have been bricked incorrectly, can have their sets broken after proof of proper ownership.

Despite these good intentions, the very existence of such a trait is worrying. Which someone hacked the system and willy-nilly started bricking televisions around the world? Of course, if you are concerned about this possibility, one possibility is never to connect your TV to the internet. But in this case, it might be better to just buy a “dumb” TV instead.

Anti-theft immobilizers are not new – a system has been patented for over 100 years to thwart car thieves. Car stereo systems have also long had technology that renders them unusable if stolen. Although this heist drew consumer attention to Samsung’s “TV Block”, we wonder if other manufacturers have similar anti-theft systems that are not well known. If you know anything, please share it in the comments below.


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