Do you get the feeling your Smart TV is watching you instead of you watching your TV. You may not be far off.
The FBI is warning that it’s possible your Smart TV could be used to hack into your home computer network and someone could spy on you, your spouse, or your kids.
“Yes, I said your TV. Specifically your smart TV…the one that is sitting in your living room right now,” notes a warning on FBI.gov.
Smart TVs are connected to the Internet and while they are really convenient because they allow you to use a host of streaming services and apps, some also come with built-in Cameras. Some brands and models even have cameras that use facial recognition allowing the TV to “know” who is watching and then suggest appropriate programming.
“There are also devices coming to market that allow you to video chat with grandma in 42” glory,” says the government agency warning.
“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.”
It can also let hackers take control of your unsecured TV. The hackers could just end up playing a prank like change your TVs channels or volume. But they could also create some dangerous situations like showing your kids inappropriate videos.
“In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you,” adds the FBI warning.
The warning says there are ways that you can protect yourself, your family, and your home from spies and hackers.
First, you want to make sure you know about the features your TV has and you need to understand how to control them. If you’re worried about the complicated manuals that usually come along with Smart TVs, just hop on the Internet and do a search for your model number and words like “microphone,” “camera,” and “privacy.”
All of this sounds Orwellian, but Smart TVs are a reality and they will just keep getting “smarter” and more popular with more and more options. So, it’s up to you to make sure that you don’t fall prey to people who want to do you harm.
“Don’t depend on the default security settings,” the FBI warns.
“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.”
Lastly, there’s always the old-fashioned way, if you’re really concerned. Just put a simple piece of black tape over the camera. That way no one can virtually break into your home and spy on you.