TVs are not what they used to be a decade ago. We now have smart TVs that can do so much. A Smart TV connects to the internet, allows you to download and install apps, stream movies and videos from services like Hulu and Netflix, or use the web browser to search for anything on the internet. Some smart TVs have webcam and voice control features, and while this is all so exciting, this poses some risks:
While hacking of TVs is rare, there is a high chance that malicious actors will start targeting smart TVs. Your unsecured smart TV can give hackers access via your router and take control of the TV. They can show inappropriate videos, change channels and add or increase the volume. The hackers can potentially turn on your bedroom TV camera, stalk you, then blackmail you with the bedroom footage. Malicious actors can use your webcam to spy on you and tell you when you are not home, creating the perfect opportunity for them to rob your home.
Most Smart TVs come with a feature that enables you to turn the TV on or change channels via voice commands. These microphones are always on, and they are still listening. People have been warned to be careful of what they say because that data is captured by the microphones and transmitted to third parties. These third parties could be the government in its quest for mass surveillance. The government can spy on anyone and get access to your TV, as can other parties like manufacturers for advertisement purposes.
How to secure your smart TV
You can secure your smart TV by taking some measures like:
1. Install a VPN
Installing a VPN to strengthen your router’s security is one of the best mitigation methods. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a safety tunnel between your router and the internet. The VPN encrypts all your incoming and outgoing internet traffic. When you log your TV into the internet, it logs in via this safe tunnel, and nobody can hack into the tunnel or intercept your traffic. The VPN also masks your IP address, and anyone attempting to stalk or track you cannot tell your actual physical location.
2. Configure privacy settings
You can configure your privacy settings on your smart TV to keep it secure. Turn off ACR or Automatic Content Recognition which tries to identify all the shows you play and transmit it to your TV manufacturer or business partners.
3. Turn off microphones and cameras
If your TV is connected to the internet, limit its access. If you rarely use the voice-activated controls, deactivate them as they are continually listening for your command prompts, and you might accidentally activate recording mode.
4. Update firmware and software updates
Your TV system updates bring you necessary security fixes. Always update your smart TV to prevent hacking.
Any internet-enabled device is vulnerable to hacking or other risks. Since your TV is no different from your computer or smartphone, take the necessary precautions to protect your privacy and data.