What the Tech? Beware of Hackers Using Your Smart TV
A new survey by the research group Hub Entertainment Research, reveals that around 70% of U.S households have at least 1 smart TV and smart TVs make up over half of all TV sets in the home.
That’s over 86 million homes in the country with a television connected to the internet.
There are obvious advantages to having a connected TV (no need for a separate streaming device, and the ability to connect to a web browser on the largest screen in the house), these smart TVs also give hackers another route into your home and personal information.
In 2018, Consumer Reports warned about certain Samsung and Roku TV models being vulnerable to hackers. But before you decide to unplug your smart TV from the internet, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Some smart TVs have cameras and microphones. Many manufacturers discontinued their models but Samsung still offers a few TVs with built-in cameras and mics. These TVs allow consumers to make Skype or other FaceTime-type calls to their friends and family. There’s some concern though that the mic and camera could “spy” on people if a hacker successfully connects to it.
If you suspect your TV might have a camera and microphone you should check around the edges for the camera. A microphone will be a smaller hole next to the camera. Again though, you likely won’t find a camera but if you do, you can cover it with a piece of tape. You might be able to disable them in settings.
One of the biggest vulnerabilities though is due to outdated firmware and default passwords. If you receive a notification of new updates while using the smart functions, install them right away. Most updates include security upgrades and fixes.
Double-check that your smart TV is using a different password that came with the TV.
Double-check the password on the WiFi router the TV is connected to. If you haven’t changed it since you first installed the router is may have a username and password such as “user” and “password”. Router passwords are available on the internet and hackers know how to use them to gain control of those routers and many of the things connected to them.
If you don’t have a smart TV now your next television likely will be as manufacturers earn more revenue from smart TVs than those not connected to the internet as they can sell data to companies in order to send targeted ads to viewers.
Is it smart to turn a smart TV dumb? Not necessarily, doing so disables the functionality you would like to use. The steps above may be all the protection you need.