Around this time of year many families give the gift of technology because of the great seasonal bargains. But this Christmas the FBI decided to gift the general public a cautious disclaimer about smart TVs… more specifically, the fact that they could be spying on their users through the use of multiple features that allow them to be distinct from regular TVs. Among these are the use of online apps, a built-in camera and microphone and the fact that smart TVs are internet-enabled. A combination of these together could make it easier for hackers to invade your privacy.
Who could hack you?
Hackers come in many different forms. The most common type regarding smart TVs are the ones who collect and sell your information to larger companies, so these companies can inundate consumers with advertisements. These companies can use your information to sell you things based off your own personalized information as a way to hopefully increase their sales and overall profit.
How are smart TVs hacked into?
The first step is understanding what allows these TVs to be so susceptible to cyber-attacks. Some easy access points for hackers are through the router connected to your TV. The router connected to the TV is also connected to the internet, so there is the hacker’s first access point. Also, there are specific settings on certain smart TVs allowing them to turn on your camera and microphone at any time. If a hacker gets access to your TV’s internet, they can gain access to the camera and microphone embedded in the TV as well. This could allow hackers to possibly watch you and listen to your conversations.
What are the best ways to prevent your TV from getting hacked?
- Know your smart TV: Make sure to do research on the types of features your TV has so you know the risk of owning it because not every TV is built the same.
- Browse the settings: If the TV does have the option of disabling the camera or microphone, make sure to do this so you don’t allow hacker to have the ability to monitor your screen and voice control options. (Tip: If your TV doesn’t allow you to turn off the camera, then you can cover the camera with a thick piece of duct tape or paper.)
- Research the TV manufacturer: Every manufacturer has different privacy policies and they might even have specialized security software options that can be downloaded and put in place to prevent hackers from gaining access to your information.
This information was not issued by the FBI with the intent to stop anyone from purchasing smart TVs entirely. This is directed towards anyone who is in the market for purchasing a smart TV or to others who already own one. It is important to fully evaluate the risk of owning a smart TV and to be mindful of possible adverse effects if you decide you want to purchase this kind of technology. The way to best prevent your information from being stolen is to know your role in owning any kind of technology and act on it accordingly.