TVs have become smart. They hear us, understand us, sometimes even control the elements of a smart home by voice commands. You can’t help but think: doesn’t this black box know too much about us?
In 2017, smart TV maker Vizio had to pay $2.2 million in fines. The company was caught secretly collecting browsing history data and selling information to third parties. The kit also included an IP address, MAC address, available Wi-Fi networks, gender, age, marital status, education and registration – that is, everything except the name.
In the same year, information appeared about espionage involving government departments.
According to Zdnet, US and British intelligence agencies – the CIA and MI5 – have teamed up to spy on the owners of smart TVs.
Documents that came from an insider became the property of WikiLeaks. They say that during the spy hackathon they created an application: it disguised itself as a regular program for Smart TV, but at the same time recorded sound.
Some of the most popular smart TV manufacturers collect tons of information about what their users are watching. The purpose, it would seem, is good – to help advertisers better target advertising to their viewers and offer relevant series for viewing. In other words, we compromise with technology companies: they give us personalization in exchange for our privacy.
Despite the popularity of Smart TV, not everyone understands how it works and how secure it is. We will conduct a small educational program about the features, vulnerabilities and protection rules.
What are you, smart TV?
Many smart TVs support voice search. In addition to watching content, the user can give commands to the TV and make video calls by throwing a couple of short remarks to the TV. Streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube use ACR (automatic content recognition), which captures a portion of the pixels on your screen every few seconds.
Where are the main risks?
Many smart TVs support voice search and have built-in webcams for video chat and games. These features have given us the ability to use TVs in new ways. Innovations came in a set with vulnerabilities. Give the wrong hands a microphone and a webcam – and you are already the object of surveillance. According to The Verge article, the CIA has created a tool called the Weeping Angel that can turn some microphones into a remote listening device. Here Wikileaks details how to turn a Samsung Smart TV into a microphone for live recording.
The TV can become infected with viruses. TV viruses are rare today. However, given the speed at which hacking develops, things may change quite soon. If you entered your card details to rent movies or buy games, or to access financial or medical services through TV applications or a web browser, the virus will become a serious problem for you.
Programs and Applications
Virus Scanner Test 2020: The Best Security Programs for Windows
How to protect your TV
There are five simple rules that will help you reduce the chances of your smart TV being leaked and hacked.
one. Remove all unnecessary. Simply put, turn off all unnecessary services. If you are using an external device to stream shows and movies, such as Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV Stick, disable all streaming services on your Smart TV. You can do the opposite: use Smart TV as a streaming manager and get rid of external devices.
2. Use a VPN. VPNs keep your streaming habits private.
Markus Blunt, CEO of VeePN, an online privacy protection service:
VPN encrypts Internet traffic and transmits it through an intermediate server to any location of your choice. It masks your IP address and replaces it with whatever you choose. It also means you can access geo-restricted content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, for example. What’s more, encryption means no one – not even your ISP – can track your activity.
3. Be careful with microphones. If your smart TV has a microphone to control Alexa or Amazon and you don’t plan to use it, turn it off. Check if your TV allows you to activate the voice assistant by pressing a button. Otherwise, be careful what you say around your TV.
four. Cameras are in a similar situation. If you can’t turn off the camera, but don’t want to be in full view all the time, a piece of duct tape can solve the problem. More elegant fixtures are also available.
5. Connect Smart TV to secondary network. Create a separate network for your TVs and IoT devices. Most modern routers allow you to create a secondary network with your own SSID and password. Setting up a separate network can take time and effort. The game is worth the candle: it will be difficult for a hacker to move from a vulnerable smart TV to a laptop or phone connected to the same network.
Technology goes further and further, becoming more intuitive, cognitive, predictive. Phones, tablets, laptops and TVs know everything about us: not only the program for tonight, but what we might want to watch next week. You’ve probably noticed that as soon as you say the name of a brand in a conversation, browsers and applications immediately display relevant ads. Reason to think, right?
For those who are not afraid of anything, we have a great selection of inexpensive smart TVs. Don’t want to be followed? Take the simplest models without any bells and whistles.