Smart TVs Are Hackable, FBI Warns

Smart TVs may be watching and listening to you, according to Beth Anne Steele, Public Affairs Officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Televisions that connect to the Internet and have microphones and/or cameras create a risk that the manufacturer of the device as well as the app developers could be spying on users. In addition, any Internet-connected device is at risk of being hacked if it’s not secured.

Related: How To Check If A Website Is Safe

Once the hackers gain access to an unsecured television, it makes it easier for them to access a user’s router, giving them even more devices and accounts to access. Steele wrote in a recent blog post on the FBI website,

“Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. 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 cyber stalk you.”

Man Watching Television

Steele provided some tips on how to prevent your smart TV from being hacked:

  • Learn about your TV’s features and the manufacturer’s privacy policy, including what data they collect, how they store that data, and whether or not they share it with third parties.
  • Change passwords from defaults if possible and learn how to disable your TV’s microphone, camera, and speaker. You may also be able to disable the collection of your personal data.

Related: The Best Password Managers of 2019

  • If the camera can’t be turned off, put a piece of black tape over it.
  • See if it’s possible to update your device with security patches.

Anyone who has had their smart TV hacked should report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a division of the FBI, or call their local FBI office.

FAQs

What can smart TVs do?

Smart TVs allow users to access a plethora of shows, movies and music without needing cable, an antenna or a satellite service. Many smart TVs also allow for web browsing, access content on from computers, or even gaming.

Do smart TVs have built in WiFi?

Yes, smart TVs have built-in WiFi as well as wired Ethernet.

Do smart TVs have Netflix?

Most smart TVs have Netflix, but it’s important to check for this before buying.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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