Some smart TVs have cameras built into them that uses facial recognition to determine who’s watching. Then, the TV can automatically put the set on what that person likes to watch. But the FBI says that technology can be used to let hackers watch you through a camera on the television.
Smart TVs are already watching you, so to speak, gathering all kinds of information from you. That’s why you can get a 70-inch 4K TV for under $600 now. By connecting a TV to the internet, you’re possibly opening a window into your home’s wireless router where every smart device, phone, and computer are connected. Last year, Consumer Reports released a report showing Samsung and Roku Smart TVs were vulnerable to hacking.
The FBI says many smart TVs are unsecured, making them vulnerable to hackers. If they can take it over, they could turn it off and on, raise the volume or activate the camera to watch you. In a worst-case scenario, the FBI claims, hackers could stalk you through your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone.
Smart TVs are popular now for cord cutters who want to access all the streaming services without buying separate devices. If you currently have a smart TV, go into the security settings and change passwords if you can. Many of them won’t, so check your Wi-Fi router to make sure it isn’t using the default username and password it came with.
Bad guys can find those on the internet, so make sure you change the login credentials. If your TV has a camera that makes you uncomfortable, turn it off or put a piece of tape over it. If you see a manufacturer’s software update, install it, they often include privacy and security upgrades.
So should you buy one? While the FBI stated smart TVs might present an opportunity for spying through the camera, it didn’t reference any actual incidents or reports. But if you’re really worried about this, don’t buy a smart TV. And if you already have one and you’re concerned, you can unplug it from the internet.