If you just got a new Smart TV over the holidays, make sure you secure them! Remember – there are cyber criminals out there, and your Smart TV’s internet connection and facial recognition capabilities, creates more channels for cyber criminals to see and steal personal information!
On what malicious cyber actors can do, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that, “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.”
To protect yourself from this scary possible intrusion, the FBI recommends that you inform yourself on your Smart TV’s security settings – Google search is your friend! The quick search result will walk you through changing default network passwords that manufacturers set, and let you know where you can enable and disable microphones and cameras.
Also, always, always, always, update your software that the device company prompts you with. This general rule applies to your Smart TV, your computer, your phone, and any other high-tech, internet-connected device. With just the updates, you can feel pretty sure that you won’t have much to worry about.
If this is difficult to figure out, or if you do not see that your Smart TV allows disabling of the camera, OR if you are reasonably paranoid like me, simply place a black tape over the camera!
And of course, if you do not want the new “smart” internet-connected features, and want to use the TV more traditionally without the internet streaming or facial recognition functions, you can simply unplug the device from your network, and the potential channel of cyber attack will be cut off.
So yes, spend about 10 minutes to just make sure you check your TV settings and connectivity. The device you have should be set to function the way you want it to and in the way you feel safe for the many coming months of TV watching, couch-potatoing & popcorn eating!
From Oregon FBI Tech – How to building a digital defense with your Smart TV?
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.
TVs and technology are a big part of our lives, and they aren’t going away. So how can you protect your family?
- 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?
As always, if you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov or call your local FBI office.