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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Despicable Hackers

Do you own a smart TV? Does yours have a microphone feature? If so, it probably has a speaker and a camera. With new technology come more bells and whistles. If your TV has a microphone, you can tell your TV to change the channel, turn up or down the volume, start a move, etc. The speaker and camera might give you the pleasure of video chatting on the big screen.

The FBI warns that your unsecured, smart TV may be the gateway allowing hackers into your home. They could be mischievous and change your channels and increase or decrease your volume. Or they could be despicable - watch you and listen to your conversations when you are unaware of their presence.

Here are some tips the FBI suggests:

  • Know exactly what features your TV has and how to control those features. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words “microphone,” “camera,” and “privacy.”

  • 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.

  • Check the manufacturer’s ability to update your device with security patches. Can they do this? Have they done it in the past?

  • Check 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.

Source: FBI - Oregon Tech Division

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