FBI warns US citizens over Smart TV’s, advocates for private security

As discount smart TVs fly off the shelves in Cyber Monday sales, the FBI has issued a warning that the internet-connected devices can allow hackers access to your home.

Connected televisions with cameras and microphones can provide an opening for bad actors to spy on you and violate your privacy, they warned.

Smart or ‘connected’ televisions are those devices that link to the internet and allow the use of various apps and streaming services.

Hackers can also take control of unsecured smart TVs and use them as a bridgehead to access your router and form their get into your computer or smartphone.

To combat this, the FBI advocates familiarising yourself with your TV’s privacy features and policies, not relying on default settings and covering cameras with tape.

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

Some models are even being designed with facial recognition technology, allowing for the television to determine who is watching and make suggestions for new programmes to enjoy based on individual viewing histories.

With these features, however, come privacy and security concerns.

The FBI have the following recommendations to keep your home safe:

• 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?

• Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.

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