By Wayne Dupree | December 2, 2019

Many Americans purchased smart TVs on Black Friday and planned to get more on Cyber Monday, but the FBI wants you to know a few things before you drop a couple of thousand dollars on a system that could steal your privacy.

With the growth of Netflix, Hulu, Disney, and other streaming services, smart TVs are like regular television sets. Still, with an internet connection and with that, many saw the internet-connected televisions as a cord cutter’s super dream: no high cable costs and the ability to choose what you want without long term contracts.

But as we have learned through trial and error, anything connected to the internet has a vulnerability which won’t allow you to be safe. The major problem with internet-connected items is that it opens up smart TVs to security vulnerabilities and hackers. Today, smart TVs come with a camera and a microphone and manufacturers often don’t put security as a priority.

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FBI’s Portland field office posted a warning on its website about the risks that smart TVs pose.

“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router,” wrote the FBI.

The FBI office also warned that hackers could and will take control of your unsecured smart TV, including the camera and microphone, to watch and listen in.

How do you fight back? Place black tape over an unused smart TV camera, keep your smart TV up-to-date with the latest patches and fixes, and read the privacy policy to understand better what your smart TV is capable of.

Not to start a major panic, active attacks and exploits against smart TVs are rare, but that doesn’t mean Pandora’s box won’t be open, and your home system will be attacked. Every smart TV comes with its manufacturer’s software, needless to say, they are at the mercy of an irregular security patching schedule.

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Earlier this year, we saw how easy it was to hijack Google’s Chromecast streaming stick and broadcast random videos to thousands of victims.

With the FBI reaching out to the public and alerting consumers, they must have some information about something coming down the pike.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that some of the most popular smart TV makers such as Samsung and LG collect tons of information about what users are watching to help advertisers better target viewers and to suggest what to watch next.

After everything is said and done, an internet smart TV might be the dumbest thing on the planet.


This piece originally appeared in and is used by permission.


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