On Black Friday, sales hit a record of $7.4 billion in the US and one of the most popular items purchased were new smart TVs – TVs that have all of the streaming capabilities built into them.
But in a timely announcement, the FBI has warned that if people picked up a new smart TV on Black Friday, there are a few things that customers should know about their new purchase – mainly that it can be a security nightmare.
Just like anything that connects to the internet, smart TVs can be left open to potential vulnerabilities and even hackers.
What's worse is that smart TVs usually come with a microphone installed so users can tell their TV to change the channel and tell it to play their favorite shows or music.
But further, many of the newer models of smart TVs also come with a camera built into them.
As you can imagine, this is a perfect recipe for a security and privacy nightmare, if you're not careful. And, as we've learned in the past, hardware companies that are making these internet-connected devices don't always make security their priority.
“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home,” The FBI warns.
“A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router.
Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”
The FBI advises users to put a “a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye” as an easy way of stopping the TV from watching you as well as making sure that your TV manufacturer is constantly issuing updates.
A TV that doesn't receive regular security patches can be a severe liability.
Reclaim The Net has a guide on how users can secure their smart TV.