Do Smart TVs Have Privacy Issues and Security Risks?

As manufacturers continue to build more products that can connect to the Internet, you may appreciate the convenience and flexibility they provide. However, you might not have considered the hazards associated with Smart TVs and other Smart home devices.

As prices reduce and quality has improved, Smart TVs have become a popular entertainment item. Smart TVs make it easier to access streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Chromecast, Amazon Prime, and more from a single location.

What is a Smart TV?

A Smart television is just like a regular TV but it can access the Internet. A user may watch on-demand movies, surf the Internet, listen to music online, shop online, and stream media services.

On certain Smart TVs, voice recognition virtual assistant services, such as Amazon's Alexa, may be used to change stations, change volume and browse for shows.

Smart TVs have gained popularity over the time. The owners of Smart TVs can simply navigate between streaming services and social media on their Smart TVs, just as they do on their Smartphone, tablet, or PC. Usage of these gadgets has become easier and more convenient with the introduction of voice commands. Gaming services also perform well on Smart TVs. Visual quality and sharpness are also significantly better on Smart TVs. Some newer models of Smart TVs have 4K Ultra HD content that provides high quality pictures and sound.

Is It Safe to Use Smart TVs?

Smart TVs, like any other gadget that connects to the Internet on a daily basis, pose a number of privacy and security problems. They are classified as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and as such, they are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

  • For starters, your TV is less likely to support high-level security software since you won't always be able to download the same antivirus and encryption software that your computer or phone can. Many Smart TVs, for example, will not support a VPN (although it does work for certain systems).

  • Some of these gadgets also include built-in cameras and microphones, which might be used by criminals. Because your Smart TV is likely to run on Wi-Fi, hackers might get access to other devices on the same network, including your router.

  • A Smart TV is a highly advanced gadget that provides a user with several possibilities for streaming, browsing, and gaming. However, there are several dangers to consider before bringing one into your living room.

Consider the issue of privacy. A voice-enabled, Internet-connected TV can keep track of what you're looking for and watching. They can provide adverts tailored to your lifestyle based on this information.

  • Most Smart TVs have the ability to turn off tracking, although this isn't always the default setting. Before turning on or off features on your Smart TV, it's a good idea to read the tiny print.

  • As with many Internet-connected devices, Smart TVs can also be hacked. Smart TV webcams could be hacked for spying, or malware can move from device to device through your router.

Ways in Which a Smart TV Can Be Hacked

Hacking into webcams is nothing new, but it has recently gained widespread attention. Hackers blackmailed Cassidy Wolf, a Miss Teen USA finalist, when they used remote administration software to snap images of her in her bedroom using her own computer. That issue might now be directed at your living room television.

Your unmentionables aren't the only source of danger. A hacker may utilize your television's webcam to see whether you have anything valuable in your house or when you are most likely to be gone for a long period of time.

Hackers have also used the linked Smart TV's built-in browser to download malicious malware, control the volume remotely, fast cycle across channels, open unsettling or explicit material, and access the connected Smart TV's built-in browser to download harmful code.

Issue with Tracking

Even if your television doesn't have a webcam, you should be aware that the company supplying you with material is likely tracking your browsing history and what you're watching. Much of this tracking is done purportedly in order to provide you with more relevant advertising, but you should think about whether you're happy with it or not.

Software that is No Longer Supported

While Smart TV makers do their best to keep the software up-to-date, security may be an afterthought in the hurry to get new products to market. Your 3-year-old Smart TV may soon appear antiquated due to rapid technological advancements. This is where a secure router can help, because it is effectively the Internet's entrance point into your house, and the router can help give some security at that point.

The vulnerability of privacy on Smart TVs is a breaking news item. Smart TVs have sparked a slew of customer privacy concerns, including the following −

Concerns about Vizio's Privacy

Vizio was fined by the Federal Trade Commission in early 2017. Vizio had been tracking its customers' viewing patterns through its Smart TV, according to the FTC. This information was subsequently sold to analytics and advertising firms, which utilized it to target customers with advertisements. The corporation got into legal difficulty as a result of this move, and it had to pay $2.2 million to resolve the claims.

The major concern was that the data collection feature was set on by default, but other manufacturers gave users the option of opting in or out.

Samsung Smart TVs pose a Security Threat

According to a new Consumer Reports study, hackers may possibly take control of millions of Samsung TVs by exploiting easy-to-find security weaknesses. Hackers might change TV stations, turn up the volume, play undesired YouTube videos, or unplug the TV from its Wi-Fi connection, among other things. Samsung has since released software patches to solve the issue.

How to Ward off the Security Risks of Smart TVs?

Here's where the silver lining comes in. Despite the availability of vulnerabilities, no major worms have exploited them. It's difficult to figure out the best defense against an assault when the attack hasn't happened yet. However, security ideas may be borrowed from other places and implemented here.

  • Keep yourself up to date. Manufacturers will do their utmost to repair security flaws, thus staying up to speed with the newest firmware is in your best interest. If you don't have a strong reason to skip them, don't.

  • Firewalls should be used. Your Smart TV, like any other device that connects to the Internet, should be protected by a firewall. For the time being, a router-based firewall and any built-in firewall settings on your Smart TV are your best options.

  • Scanners for malware will depend on how Smart your Smart TV is, but you should utilize a virus scanner app if you have one. Don't forget to keep that up to date as well.

  • Webcam security techniques may be adapted for camera security. Always assume your camera is on, and never do anything in front of it that you wouldn't want televised accidently. Cover the Smart TV camera with a piece of tape if you're very worried.

Leave the Smart TV at home. If everything else fails, you may always forego the Smart TV and continue with your regular television sets.