Smart TVs are often equipped with microphones or cameras that allow you to monitor or use the system for video chatting through your voice.
These features may be useful, but if you picked up a smart TV during the year-end buying blitz that kicked off on Black Friday-or you’re planning to buy one soon-the FBI wants you to know that the device can be used to spy on you or your loved one you’re planning to give it up for this Christmas.
On Tuesday, a blog post was released by the FBI’s Portland field office outlining all the ways someone could take advantage of features of a smart TV for malicious purposes.
“Beyond the risk of hearing and watching you from your TV manufacturer and app developers, television can also be a gateway for hackers to come home,” the agency wrote.
“A bad cyber attacker may not be able to directly reach your locked-down device, but your unsecured TV may be able to provide him or her with an easy way through your router in the backdoor.” This is not the first time anyone sounded the alarm about the security vulnerabilities of smart TVs.
A 2018 study into consumer reports found that millions of smart TVs have security flaws that are easy to exploit, and white hat hackers have shown how bad actors can take over the phones.
In June, Samsung’s electronics manufacturer even tweeted a reminder to its smart TV owners to scan their virus sets every few weeks to “Prevent malicious software attacks”— and then removed the tweet after media coverage sparked backlash.
Clearly smart TVs are a viable entry point for hackers.
That doesn’t mean that, according to the FBI report, you can’t have your smart TV and also enjoy your privacy.
Before buying a smart TV, the company advises to do your research to ensure that you recognize any security vulnerabilities.
If all else fails, the FBI suggests that you go back to basics and place a piece of black tape over the camera of a smart TV.