FBI: TVs Have Spying Eyes

Rear view of teenage girl using smart phone app while watching TV in living room at home

WASHINGTON, DC -- The FBI is warning consumers about those new smart TVs they may have unwrapped over the holidays.

Those smart TVs with internet connections and facial recognition capabilities could be vulnerable. Even without a hack, the tech could allow the manufacturer and app developers to keep an eye on you.

The FBI warned in a statement, "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. 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."

The Federal Bureau of Investigations suggests that consumers know what features your TV has and how to to control those features. A good place to start is searching the internet with your model number and key words like “microphone,” “camera,” and “privacy.”

Another suggestion is to brush up on security settings. Don’t depend on the default security settings. Change passwords if you can – and know how to turn off the microphones, cameras, and collection of personal information if possible. If you can’t turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.

If you can’t turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option.

Lastly, check the manufacturer’s ability to update your device with security patches and the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.

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