Security concerns over hackable smart TVs

A new survey conducted by NordVPN has shown that more than 65% of people in the UK own a smart TV but one in four so nothing to protect them from being hacked.

A warning was published back in 2019 by the FBI warning consumers that smart TVs can make users vulnerable to surveillance and attacks by bad actors. Since then, user security technology has become more advanced, but internet connected devices remain vulnerable.

Daniel Markuson, a digital security expert from NordVPN explained: “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. 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.”

Smart TV owners should be aware that the possibility of somebody watching or listening to users is much higher than with a traditional set as hackers can access cameras and microphones built into the smart TV through malware if the smart TV is connected to Wi-Fi.

Like most smart devices, smart TVs use trackers which is another concern. Services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO GO collect data from users and track their streaming behaviour to give a personalised experience to the user. However, this means users are at risk of having their data leaked from the companies, something that has become a frequent occurrence in recent years.

Some users will browse the internet through their smart TVs which carries the risk of contracting viruses. Like computers, smart TVs run on software, but they don’t have the same strong antivirus and firewall systems installed. If the smart TV gets a virus, browsing history, passwords and other private data can become accessible to hackers.

There are things that can be done to help prevent these security issues. Firstly, strong passwords are advised. If the TV is regularly or continually connected to the internet, make sure the device itself, as well as any applications installed on it, use strong passwords that are hard to guess.

Secondly, Markuson says that software updates are crucial for cybersecurity as manufacturers do their best to patch vulnerabilities. Updates often repair security flaws, fix or remove various bugs, add new features, and improve existing ones.

It is also advised to secure the router. Along with any other IoT devices in the house, the smart TV will probably connect to the internet through a router in your house. Consumers should make sure the router is as secure and protected as possible with strong passwords as well as a VPN to encrypt any data travelling through it.

Markuson also advises that consumers should not install any programmes or games from unofficial sources on the smart TV. Make sure that both the app and its provider are reliable. Moreover, if an application asks for access to data, the camera or microphone that isn’t necessary for its operation, never grant it.

Finally, always make sure the camera is switched off when not in use. Whether it’s a built-in camera or the one connected to a TV via Wi-Fi, turn it off when not using it. If it can’t be turned off, make sure the lens is covered.

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