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Smart TVs May Be the New NSA

Take notice, that new smart TV in your man cave may be watching you! Smart TVs aren’t just televisions anymore, they’re sophisticated computers with very few firewalls — and they’re an easy target for hackers. If you have recently purchased one, be careful if you use it as a web browser where you need to disclose sensitive personal information, like online banking and bill payments.

You can be sure that hackers are very interested in your unguarded online transactions. When was the last time you updated your security software for your TV? Probably never — if you’re like most people. It’s easy for a hacker to take control of your TV and use it to empty your bank account, order a pizza or book an around the world cruise.

It’s Not Just Hackers. Manufacturers of Smart TVs Are Listening Too

Many of the newer Smart TVs offer voice recognition software that allows users to “Talk” to their TVs. These programs were designed to let the user easily navigate menus and use other functions of their TV, including the web browser. Your voice commands are transmitted over the internet to a processor not necessarily controlled by the TV’s manufacturer. Samsung contracts with third-party providers to process their voice data, adding another level of opportunity for hackers.

Samsung publishes its Smart TV Privacy Policy in its owner’s manual: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition. Voice information—such as recordings of your voice that we make (and may store on our servers) when you use voice commands to control a Service. (Note that we work with a third-party service provider that provides speech-to-text conversion services on our behalf. This provider may receive and store certain voice commands.)”

Smart TVs May Be Spying on You and Your Family

If your Smart TV came with a camera, those clever hackers have found a way to turn it on without your knowledge. They can turn it on and off at will, and you’ll never know it happened. If you use Smart TVs in your business setting, your sensitive company secrets could be stolen. If that big, new Smart TV is in your bedroom – well, you get the picture.

Keep Your Smart TV Secure

Here’s how to keep it from happening to you:

  • Disconnect the Smart TV from your network when not in use
  • Turn off the voice command feature in your Settings
  • Keep your security software up to date
  • Cover the camera lens and microphone with a piece of tape
  • Use encrypted wireless routers and wireless access points (WAPs)

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