As reported last month, independent researchers John Jackson — an application security engineer for Shutter Stock — and a researcher using the handle Sick Codes identified and described two serious software security holes affecting TCL brand television sets and would allow an unprivileged remote attacker on the adjacent network to download most system files from the TV set up to and including images, personal data and security tokens for connected applications. The flaw could lead to serious critical information disclosure, the researchers warned. Both flaws affect TCL Android Smart TV series V8-R851T02-LF1 V295 and below and V8-T658T01-LF1 V373 and below, according to the official CVE reports. In an interview with The Security Ledger, the researcher Sick Codes said that a TCL TV set he was monitoring was patched for the CVE-2020-27403 vulnerability without any notice from the company and no visible notification on the device itself. In a statement to The Security Ledger, TCL disputed that account. By TCL’s account, the patched vulnerability was linked to a feature called “Magic Connect” and an Android APK by the name of T-Cast, which allows users to “stream user content from a mobile device.” T-Cast was never installed on televisions distributed in the USA or Canada, TCL said. For TCL smart TV sets outside of North America that did contain T-Cast, the APK was “updated to resolve this issue,” the company said. That application update may explain why the TCL TV set studied by the researchers suddenly stopped exhibiting the vulnerability.
In his address on Monday, Acting Secretary Wolf said the warning about TCL will be part of a broader “business advisory” cautioning against using data services and equipment from firms linked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This advisory will highlight “numerous examples of the PRC government leveraging PRC institutions like businesses, organizations, and citizens to covertly access and obtain the sensitive data of businesses to advance its economic and national security goals,” Wolf said. “DHS flags instances where Chinese companies illicitly collect data on American consumers or steal intellectual property. CCP-aligned firms rake in tremendous profits as a result,” he said.