Published: Wed, December 04, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

FBI Warns That Hackers Are Watching People Through Their Smart TVs

FBI Warns That Hackers Are Watching People Through Their Smart TVs

"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. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you", she adds.

Are you watching TV or is your TV watching you?

In fact, even the US' FBI has stepped in to warn customers about the potential dangers smart TVs pose, as pointed out in a recent column.

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

On the more nefarious side, hackers could also break into your TV. "But for people who are particularly anxious, or who don't want the new "smart" features, there is a simple solution to keep hackers out: unplug the device from your network". You could have to buy a model that was at least five years old to get an old-fashioned device.

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Shoppers were warned that they can not rely on the default security settings of any devices that they might purchase to provide adequate protection for themselves and their families.

On Black Friday, sales hit a record of $7.4 billion in the United States and one of the most popular items purchased were new smart TVs - TVs that have all of the streaming capabilities built into them.

Using technology called automatic content recognition (ACR), TVs watch what you're watching - no matter whether it's from streaming, cable, satellite, DVD, whatever. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words "microphone", "camera", and "privacy". (Your user manual or a quick Google search will probably help you find the settings if you're not sure where to look.) If all else fails, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recommends taping up the camera with black tape-in fact, this might be worth doing this even if you have the camera disabled in the settings.

Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, commented: "The main takeaway from this advisory should be that keeping devices patched and secure should be the responsibility of the manufacturer; we can not place the burden on the average consumer to be tech-savvy enough to check settings, permissions, and apply patches".

3-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. But as is the case with most other internet-connected devices, manufacturers often don't put security as a priority. They also gave the TV manufacturer the right to collect all that information.

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