The smart TV ranks high on the list of holiday bestsellers, and this holiday season was no exception. The popular televisions, which are more like deluxe computers, include internet capability, allow for streaming music and video, interactive media, web browsing, audio commands, and more. Given these perks, you can imagine how this all-in-one television could make an ideal gift. However, the question is just how smart is your smart TV? The answer might frighten you.
For all of the reasons that your smart TV is appealing to you, it is also particularly attractive to hackers. Its increased functionality provides them with expanded capabilities to exploit vulnerabilities. As the FBI’s Portland, OR office noted in November, your smart TV’s internet connection makes it a gateway into your private life; your microphone amplifies that passageway for hackers.
“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you,” the FBI revealed in the statement.
To compound matters, hackers are not the only eavesdroppers. Manufacturers also “spy” on customers, employing facial recognition software to follow user viewing patterns, as well as downloading and listening preferences, to collect information and determine ads to display. As reported in the Huffington Post, the efforts of electronics manufacturer Vizio were so intrusive that it was required to pay $2.2 million for accessing the viewing information of millions of users without their consent.
To be less vulnerable, protect yourself by routinely performing system updates on your smart device. This will help safeguard your system against known vulnerabilities. You should also follow FBI guidelines by covering your device’s camera, and turning off its microphone. The FBI also suggests reading the privacy policies that come with your smart TV’s specific make and model before making your purchase.
These extra steps may seem tedious, but can help you reclaim your safe haven. With proactive measures and strategic vigilance, you just may be able to outsmart your smart TV.