FBI reminds people that smart TVs can be hacked

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

In the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday post, the agency warns that smart TVs could give hackers a backdoor into your home via a router. Hacked televisions are far from common, but it does happen.

The agency also notes that some smart TVs come with built-in cameras and microphones, used for voice commands and facial recognition to identify different users and suggest appropriate programs. A worst-case scenario could see bad actors take control of these TVs to listen and watch owners without their knowledge.

The FBI recommends knowing what features your TV has and how to control them. It also advises changing default passwords, turning off mics and cameras—or putting black tape over the camera—staying up to date with security patches, and checking the manufacturer’s privacy policy to see what data it collects and how it’s used and stored.

The warning comes not long after researchers found several smart TVs, including those from popular brands Samsung and LG, as well as streaming dongles Roku and FireTV, were sending data such as location and IP address to Netflix and third-party advertisers.

Back in June, Samsung recommended people perform a manual scan of its QLED smart TVs every few weeks to prevent “malicious software attacks,” though the controversial tweet was soon deleted. It came after the company announced it was extending its contract to have McAfee antivirus software pre-installed on all its smart televisions produced in 2019.

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Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
Dont connect your TV to the internet, problem solved.

Not only is this not an issue, but more importantly, smartTVs SUCK. Their interface is slow, the apps are junk compare to windows/roku/other streaming devices, and usually they get stuck with no updates after a few years.

Just get a dedicated streaming box and be done with it.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
I use a home theater computer (HTPC), so I don't really need to be concerned with this type of hack. It is still bullcrap that these companies just steal your information. What makes it worse - most of them don't even give you a way to disable the cameras and microphones they are forcing us to buy in these things.

Not just just TVs, but receivers and other devices capture your data. My Onkyo keeps nagging me to accept their privacy eula. I called their tech support and they said there is no way to say NO permanently. I just have to keep tapping no... WTF? Don't buy Onkyo.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
If you do want to use the internet hookup there is a cute little slide-able button you can buy on Amazon for about $4 that allows you to slide it over the camera when not in use. Not perfect but it works!
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
I would love to not buy a smart TV, but the only 'stupid' options are relatively low-res (1080p, usually 720p) and small screen size (<32"). For now, I use the built-in apps, but in about a year - when updates begin to cripple them - I'll reset the whole thing, disconnect it from the internet, and switch to either an HTPC or a Ruku.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Unfortunately manufacturers stopped making "dumb" TV's as far as I'm aware. I would prefer just to buy a freaking display and plug in my own "smart" devices that way I can upgrade as needed.

These smart TV's and their OS's are only supported for so long, just like Android phones. I have an LG "smart" TV that I bought in 2016 and they don't do updates for it anymore and I can't get new services in it. So I've just disconnected it from my network and plugged in an Amazon fire stick.

Having the built-in computer isn't all that necessary and kind of a waste of time and money as far as I'm concerned. This kind of crap just makes it even worse and gives me even more reasons not to even bother.
 

Markoni35

TS Maniac
The whole purpose of "Smart TV" is to steal information. Why else would you send your voice over the internet to cloud servers for voice recognition? Nowadays built-in computers are so fast they can do voice-recognition with 1% CPU usage, so there's no real need to send the user conversations over the internet. The only reason is to spy on everyone, which seems to be the main driving power of cellphone and smart-TV evolution. Every new feature they are adding to modern devices is designed to improve spying on users.
 
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Danny101

TS Guru
Many of today's Private Policies are nothing more than blackmail. Accept us spying on you and selling you out or you don't get to use our product. It's all industries wide, so that amounts to collusion at our civil expense. Yes we need laws now to address this.
 
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