A smart TV is simply an internet-enabled television. These highly evolved devices give users a wide range of options when it comes to streaming, online gaming, and browsing. Your smart TV may even come with voice control and webcam features. But since they are always connected to the internet, smart TVs come with certain security and privacy risks.
Whether you’re thinking about getting a Smart TV or already have one, you need to acquaint yourself with the potential security and privacy issues associated with these devices. In this article, we’ll look at the security and privacy risks facing smart TV users, plus tips for how to protect yourself. Keep reading.
Security & Privacy Risks Facing Smart TV Users
Smart TVs present both security and privacy risks. Security concerns involve malware attacks and hacking incidents, while privacy issues include situations where TV manufacturers collect and sell user data to advertisers. Here are some security and privacy risks to be aware of as a smart TV user.
Smart TVs have the capacity to track what you are searching for and watching online. Many smart TVs come with a feature known as Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). ACR keeps track of everything displayed on your smart TV screen. TV manufacturers collect this data and sell it to third parties who, in turn, use it to target advertisements and viewing recommendations to you.
Many users don’t know that their smart TVs are monitoring their habits, which has led to some consumer privacy concerns. In 2017, Vizio, one of the largest TV makers in the United States, paid $2.2 million to the FTC for similar behavior. Vizio was collecting viewing data on smart TVs without the consumers’ knowledge or consent.
Surveillance is another common threat facing smart TV users. Many smart TVs come with convenience features such as microphones and webcams. Microphones allow users access to voice control features, while the cameras help with online gaming and video chats. The problem is that microphones and webcams on your smart TV can be hacked and used to spy on you.
Viruses and other forms of malware are not very common in smart TVs. However, they are not non-existent. There have been a few incidents of malware infestation targeting smart TV devices. Samsung Electronics, the biggest smart TV manufacturer in the world, even sent a tweet reminding smart TV users to scan their devices for malware every few weeks. Many speculate that the now-deleted tweet was a response to a recent threat.
Tips to Secure Your Smart TV
Now that you’re familiar with the privacy and security risks associated with smart TVs, it’s time to take steps to protect yourself. Here are a few tips to mitigate privacy and security risks when using a smart TV.
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Strengthen Router Security
You can protect your smart TV from online threats by protecting your home network. If threat actors can’t access your Wi-Fi network, it’ll be extremely hard for them to access your smart TV. Using a VPN router is the most effective way to protect your home Wi-Fi network and your smart TV from hackers and other malicious actors on the internet.
Disable Your Smart TV’s Webcam and Microphone
The built-in camera and microphone can be hacked and turned into surveillance devices. If you don’t want bad actors watching you and listening to your conversations, disable these features. Go to your TV settings and turn off the microphone. As for the camera, cover the lens with a strip of opaque tape.
Update Your TV
Keep your TV up to date to protect yourself from hacking and malware attacks. Attackers often exploit the vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to internet-connected devices such as smart TVs. New OS versions come with security updates to patch these vulnerabilities and keep your smart TV secure.
Limit Your Exposure
When setting up your smart TV, choose the most restrictive to limit your privacy exposure. Some manufacturers will give users several options when it comes to data sharing and connectivity. You may not be able to opt-out of their data collection features, but you can limit the amount of data they collect by selecting the most restrictive options.
Change the Default Password
Lax password security is the culprit in many cyberattacks involving internet-connected devices. Unfortunately, smart TVs are no different. Most internet-enabled TVs come with a password designed to keep others from opening and messing around with important settings, usually ‘0000’ or ‘1234.’ Change the default password for more security.
The new generation of televisions promises to improve your viewing experience, but the trade-off is your data and privacy. Internet-connected TVs also expose users to serious security risks such as surveillance. However, you can still enjoy the perks of smart home technology without inviting these issues. All you have to do is follow these security tips and keep an eye peeled for strange behavior by smart TV.