FBI Issues Warning of the Risks of Using Smart TVs

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It was really hard to avoid all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, wasn’t it? You may have even been tempted with some great deals on smart TVs, whether as a gift or as a purchase for yourself.

Knowing this, it seems the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) picked a curious time to issue a warning to consumers about smart TVs. Just before Black Friday, the bureau posted a warning to its website about the risks and dangers of owning a smart TV.

FBI Warning

Like all Internet of Things devices, smart TVs connect to the Internet. As great as all the features are on a TV set of this sort, it’s important to remember that you also get all the dangers and risks that come along with using a smartphone or computer, such as hacking. Additionally, most smart TVs include a camera and microphone that can capture you at inopportune times. Worse yet, manufacturers of IoT devices don’t place security and privacy as priorities.

“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 wrote on their website. “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.”

Suddenly a smart TV isn’t sounding so fun and exciting, is it? It’s opening you up to all sorts of cyber dangers. However, these types of attacks to smart TVs are rare, and some sets are more vulnerable than others since each manufacturer has different software, security patching, etc.

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Some of the biggest exploits of smart TVs recently were developed by the CIA, but they were stolen, only for the files to later show up at WikiLeaks.

In addition to hacking risks, some popular manufacturers of smart TVs, such as Samsung and LG, collect data of what people are watching to help TV advertisers. Vizio had to pay $2.2 million in fines after it secretly collected customer viewing data, and this year the company had a separate class-action suit filed against it because of the tracking.

Staying Safe with Smart TVs

Because of the cameras and microphones that are often forgotten about when using a smart TV, the FBI recommends putting black tape over the cameras, which is the same thing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is known to do. The bureau further suggests staying up to date with the latest security patches and fixes and to read the privacy policy of that manufacturer.

But don’t let this persuade you against using a smart TV. They can still be great gadgets to have and are easier to deal with to have all your favorite streaming services built in so that you don’t have to add in a separate streaming device. You just need to remain aware of the risks and dangers, like any other device or computer that is tied in to the Internet.

Do you have a smart TV? Has the FBI warning persuaded you against having one? Tell us your stories in the comments below.

3 comments

  1. “A camera and microphone”? Really? I see no mention of either in the help files or any other documentation for my LG 49UJ6300 smart TV and it’s only about one year old. Are they built in and hidden? Because if this is the case, I’ll take the thing out on my lawn and use my 10lb. “monster maul” on it. Seriously.

    1. I Googled if LG smart TVs have cameras and microphones and found some models do and some models don’t. When I looked at the specs for that model, it doesn’t appear like to does. This video shows how to tell if your LG TV has a camera or not: https://youtu.be/ZaBVfH4GCJ8

  2. “FBI Issues Warning of the Risks of Using Smart TVs”
    ???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FBI is really on the ball. NOT!
    How may years ago did Smart TVs hit the market? Soon after their introduction, reports started appearing about Samsung and other manufacturers listening and probably storing anything the TVs picked up.

    “some popular manufacturers of smart TVs, such as Samsung and LG, collect data of what people are watching to help TV advertisers”
    Cable companies have been collecting that kind of data for years prior to the invention of Smart TVs. But that is an another discussion.

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