Is your TV spying on YOU? It sounds like science fiction but many new TVs can watch you – telling advertisers your favourite shows or even filming you on the sofa. And there’s no off switch!

You are sitting in bed in your pyjamas, drinking a cup of cocoa. A loved one lies next to you, watching late-night television. Pillow talk is exchanged. An alarm clock is set. Eventually the lights are turned out.

Earlier, you sat on the living-room sofa eating supper, before loading the dishwasher and heading upstairs.

You have, in other words, just enjoyed a perfectly normal night, in a perfectly normal home. The curtains are drawn, the central heating turned up. It’s cosy, relaxing and, above all, completely private. Or so you thought.

The truth turns out to be quite the opposite. For on the other side of the world, people you didn’t know existed are keeping a beady eye on your every move.

These characters can see what clothes you have been wearing and what food you’ve eaten. They heard every word you said, and logged every TV show you watched. Some are criminals, others work for major corporations. And now they know your most intimate secrets.

It may sound like a plot summary for a futuristic science-fiction movie. But real-life versions of this Orwellian scenario are being played out every day in towns and cities across the globe — and in most cases the victims have no idea.

At fault is a common electronic device invented nearly a century ago and found in almost every modern household: the domestic television set.

Put simply, our TVs have started spying on us.


Online advertisers: unwittingly funding cybercriminals since 2011

Online advertisers: unwittingly funding cybercriminals since 2011

This is a guest post by Douglas de Jager, CEO of data analytics company

Before 2011 online advertising fraud was regarded as a solved problem. Then in 2011 a mushrooming botnet ecosystem was born that changed the requirements for preventing online advertising fraud. This ecosystem makes the traditional statistical approaches to preventing online advertising fraud increasingly futile.

The ecosystem was born out of the leaked source code of arguably the most infamous botnet malware, Zeus. Online display advertisers are the victims of fraud, unwittingly funding this botnet ecosystem today. 


Before 2011 online advertising fraud — particularly fraud targeting pay-per-click advertising — was regarded as a solved problem, or at least a controllable problem. Best practices had been established and processes were in place. Let’s consider how this came to be.

2004 was the auspicious year of Google’s IPO. This was not just the first major technology IPO after the dot-com bubble burst. It was also the biggest technology IPO.

Despite the excitement over Google’s IPO, analysts at the time expressed reservations about Google’s ability to prevent advertising fraud. These reservations were addressed explicitly in Google’s SEC filing: “If we fail to detect click-through fraud, we could lose the confidence of our advertisers, thereby causing our business to suffer. We are exposed to the risk of fraudulent clicks on our ads by persons seeking to increase the advertising fees paid to our Google Network members. We have regularly refunded revenue that our advertisers have paid to us and that was later attributed to click-through fraud, and we expect to do so in the future.”