NSA unfriendly display (monitor/TV)

So basically I am looking to move away from beautiful but sketchy NSA spying smart TVs to beautiful non-spying dumb displays.

I am hoping to find something that can rival the big names in monitors as far as functionality goes (4k, Freesync (144Hz?), HDR, tons of inputs [hdmi 2.1, display port, maybe some component]) while rivaling the best in the TV world in the way of 50”-75”. Everything I’d want a smart TV to do I can do with an Android TV box or a PC. I know it sounds like a unicorn but in the wake of all this NSA crap as well as just data mining… You’d think there would be a larger push.

1 Like

Just don't hook TV to internet... or block using router.


yeah, no I get that but it seems like there is a lot of wasted potential overhead having then a smart TV OS running. I mean that would be the simplest fix for sure but again I was hoping for some of the more monitor-like features like higher refresh rates and better input selections.

It's what the people want sadly.
There's not enough money to be had so they don't sell it.
(or the price difference is not worth it)

Do these "smart" TVs have wifi built in? Just because you don't connect them to your network, doesn't mean they aren't accessible for spying in some way...

some hardcore tinfoil hat stuff.
i generally would not worry about that.
Also in every samsung tv i've seen you can disable the wifi module (simply not using it) does not recieve and does not transmit

As we've seen with many modern electronics, especially cell phones and windows 10... just because a switch says "off" doesn't mean it is actually off.

No tinfoil needed, there are examples in the wild.

Something that big with monitor like features?

I'm not aware of anything marketed in the states

Probably some Korean selling some somewhere, just gotta find it

An LCD panel from 2004 with the case and all it's cables wrapped in tinfoil and grounded.
Only to be used inside a metal storage container that's also grounded, preferably sitting in a swamp.

If NSA is sniffing on signals from your monitor you have bigger problems.

I have a Vizio M60-c3. Having taken it apart previously, the WiFi attachment appears to be a a relatively standard mSATA card, and can be removed; so it is possible to completely disable the hardware. I'm guessing other companies do this, for the sake of modularity.
That said, I have the TV paired to the guest network. Unlike the Samsung TV's, no mic or camera built in. I'd anticipate that my setup is isolated enough that where someone to exploit and enter my TV, they'd get bored of the devices on my guest network and move on.

imo your best bet would be a conference room monitor. Simply has HDMI inputs and sizes upwards of 55" or thereabouts.

Check for example the Dell C7016H (70")

or C5517H (55")

As far as I can tell a pretty dumb monitor so no spying I guess.

The price on these things is about the same as an equivalent smart tv.

Edit: no 4k on the examples given though but still an interesting alternative

As we've seen recently, if the NSA can do it, so can that bored teenage neighbor next door...

There are lots of reasons to not have extra technology you don't need or use in our devices. Especially when the security of such devices is often found to be suspect and rarely are updates and patches released for them.

The largest attack botnets have been created out of insecure armies of IOT devices.

I work InfoSec, Red Team ops by day.

If your Monitor is an IOT device you're anyway doing something wrong.
Also threat modeling, there are more important threat vectors.

I don't need to spend lots of money to sniff on your monitor signals (which is absurd due the noise enviroment, this aint a clean RF test environment) If I can MITM your modem at an ISP level or at the box down the street. And if the NSA has rated it worthwhile going to that extent then you have bigger issues going on.

Could you get in with any box on my ISPs "network" around my neighborhood? Or only the last box before it gets to my house? (mine happens to be in my backyard)

edit - so it will let me repost with proper reply

Many smart TV's are capable of connecting to the internet and communicate with remote systems/vendors thus making them IOT devices no? If not for you, then for the vendors. Such TV's can be used as monitors.

Being able to remotely access things like smart TV's that may display potentially sensitive information would be a valuable thing for any spy agency to have. Anyone wishing to do so doesn't need to spend a large amount of money per device, just develop the tools once and re-use them for the lifetime of the device life cycle. Again see recent NSA tools leaks for an example of what I am talking about.

Why bother sniffing RF signals if modern TV's have the processing power to enable sending today's all digital data being displayed on the screen to a remote viewer over the internet? Even local wifi would be easier than trying to snif RF leakage.

Anywhere between your modem and the ISP's peering to other networks is usable.

1 Like

^^ Look at what I wrote.

If I want to gain unfettered access to internet connected devices I don't need to modify everyones device.
Why are you telling me this? You're just proving my point for me.

That's changing the subject. It should be common knowledge that anything meant to be kept private should be kept away from the internet. Even computers disconnected from the internet need monitors.

We are discussing reasons for avoiding Smart TV's from a security standpoint, not general internet security issues.

I agree, I mean yeah, you'll never have total security but the idea is to plug as many potential holes as you can. Don't make it easy for them. I figured I would start with the TVs