The FBI recently put out a blog post warning people about how malicious people or organizations could spy on you by way of your smart TV.
Smart TVs are those that connect to the internet, typically so that you can stream video from services like Netflix and Hulu. This connectivity though creates a vector for hackers to spy on you via the built in camera and mic on Smart TVs.
Beth Anne Steele of the Portland FBI said in the post “Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”
Smart TVs typically either using FireTV from Amazon, Chromecast from Google, or Roku have saturated the market. With the wide distribution of these technologies hackers could make their way into millions of homes.
However, the FBI post provides some tips on how to mitigate this risk:
- Do an internet search for your TV model to see if it includes a microphone, camera, or facial recognition software. You’ll also be able to figure out how to turn these features off.
- Change any default passwords on the device. Hackers can easily find these default logins through an internet search.
- Some TVs won’t provide you with the option to turn off the mic and camera. Luckily, the low tech option of simply using a piece of black tape to cover them will work just fine.
- Since they’re Smart TVs they’ll likely come with an Update option. Search through to menu or look up a manual for your TV and update it regularly. If there is a toggle to switch on automatic updates make sure to enabled it.
- This is somewhat unrelated, but check to see what data the TV manufacturer and streaming services collect to see if they’re acceptable to you.
You can read the original Portland FBI blog post here.