Smart TVs are proliferating in the consumer electronics market with 60% of Americans now using them, however, only 1 in 4 do anything to protect these devices.
According to a survey by NordVPN, smart TVs can be hacked through a camera or microphone via malware, which can slip into the user’s TV if it is connected to Wi-Fi. From there, footage from the bedroom or living room could be used to blackmail users and families afterward.
The FBI stated in 2019 that smart TVs can be vunlernable to surveillance and attacks by bad actors and while the security technology in these TVs has improved, they remain vunerable, Nord said.
“Like any device that regularly connects to the internet, smart TVs collect a lot of private data, which leads to a variety of privacy and security concerns,” said Daniel Markuson, digital security expert from NordVPN. “But, unlike other smart devices, they cannot be equipped with the latest cybersecurity software (like antivirus), and that makes them even more vulnerable to cybercrime.”
Additionally, by hacking a smart TV, bad actors can:
- Access user data and track streaming behavior from Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax and more.
- Infect browsing history, passwords and other private data through using the web browsing feature.
- Collect information for ransomware attacks or sell this information on the dark web.
How to protect a smart TV
NordVPN, a virtual private network provider, listed five ways consumers can protect their devices.
1) Strong passwords. Strong, hard-to-guess passwords with a complex and randomized mix of numbers and letters can help protect the TV.
2) Update software so that the latest cybersecurity patches are up to date.
3) Secure router. Along with other internet of things (IoT) devices, smart TVs connect to a router and the more secure it is, the harder it is to infect.
4) Download apps from official stores. Installing programs or games from unofficial sources increases the risk of getting hacked.
5) Turn off the camera. When not in use, turn the camera off or cover the lens with a sticker or paper to avoid potential spying.
“You shouldn’t have to choose between a great online TV and strong security — it’s possible to have both,” Markuson said. “As the smart TV global market reached $202.1 billion last year, we need to learn how to protect those devices properly.”