The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned about smart TV's potential to spy and snoop on users.
A number of the newer TV’s have built-in cameras, the FBI notes. "In some cases, the cameras are used for facial recognition so the TV knows who is watching and can suggest programming appropriately. There are also devices coming to market that allow you to video chat with grandma in 42” glory."
"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," warns the FBI.
Hackers can also take control of unsecured TVs, such as changing channels, playing with the volume, and showing kids inappropriate videos and "in a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you," says the FBI.
To protect against TV hacking and cybercrime, the FBI says users should take the following precautions:
- Know exactly what features your TV has and how to control those features. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words “microphone,” “camera,” and “privacy.”
- Don’t depend on the default security settings. Change passwords if you can – and know how to turn off the microphones, cameras, and collection of personal information if possible. If you can’t turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.
- 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.
- Check the manufacturer’s ability to update your device with security patches. Can they do this? Have they done it in the past?