While many people took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to get their hands on cheap smart TV’s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned of the serious risks posed by these next-generation TVs.
Connected TVs have become increasingly popular in the electronics market in recent years. They work similarly to normal TVs, but can connect to the Internet, providing instant access to streaming platforms like Netflix.
Many of these devices are also equipped with a microphone and a camera, which can send voice commands to television and be offered more personalized content using facial recognition, respectively.
According to an FBI blog post, “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.”
The intelligence agency explains that connected devices are generally less secure than computers, and that they could grant easy access to your router to a hacker.
“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.” the statement said.
Take the necessary precautions
The Oregon FBI recalls that there are many ways to secure a smart TV, starting with getting information on the web about the privacy features of the model in question.
The intelligence agency suggests, if possible, to change the TV’s default password and disable the microphone and camera. Sticking tape to hide the camera is also a viable tactic.
Another option is to buy an unconnected TV. Given the controversy surrounding smart TVs, this is the simplest option (and in many cases the least expensive).