Federal Bureau of Investigation warns smart TV users of security risks

Marco Green
December 3, 2019

But in a timely announcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that if people picked up a new smart TV on Black Friday, there are a few things that customers should know about their new purchase - mainly that it can be a security nightmare.

Since recently purchased TVs are smart TVs, they are created to be connected to the internet for a means of accessing streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.

The FBI's Portland field office recently posted a blog on its website about the security threat that smart TVs pose, particular as it is an element of their design manufacturers may not pay as much attention to, according to the organisation.

Just like anything that connects to the internet, smart TVs can be left open to potential vulnerabilities and even hackers.

FBI Oregon explains in a tech post that your "TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you", while hackers can use a smart TV to break into your digital home and then get access to other devices like your computer.

A lot of the smart TVs being sold also have microphone and camera support, so if a hacker were somehow able to access your TV, they would be able to activate the TV's microphone and camera to listen in and watch you. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words "microphone", "camera", and "privacy".

'In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.

Smart TV users were advised to familiarize themselves with security settings and change network passwords.

Since Black Friday has just finished, many participants in the sales would have grabbed a new snazzy TV for their family living room. If you can't turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.

3-If you can't turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option.

Tait warns it is also extremely important for consumers to promptly install software updates routinely pushed out by smart TV manufacturers. Have they done it in the past?

Increasingly, these high-tech device are being fitted with cameras and microphones - allowing for user voice control and the addition of video chat facilities.

But as much as the FBI's warning is responding to genuine fears, arguably one of the bigger issues that should cause as much if not greater concerns are how much tracking data is collected on smart TV owners.

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