Federal Bureau of Investigation warns smart TV users of security risks

Now even the FBI is warning about your smart TV's security

FBI issues warning about smart TVs

On Black Friday, sales hit a record of $7.4 billion in the USA and one of the most popular items purchased were new smart TVs - TVs that have all of the streaming capabilities built into them.

Smart TVs connect to the Internet, allowing you to stream content from online services like Netflix and Hulu directly to your TV.

Since Black Friday has just finished, many participants in the sales would have grabbed a new snazzy TV for their family living room.

Smart TVs top many holiday wish lists.

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Cyber security experts and consumer advocates have warned about privacy risks involved in smart TVs for a few years, but now the Federal Bureau of Investigation is putting consumers on alert as well.

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.

According to the agency, beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, the device can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home.

The FBI warned that hackers can take control of your unsecured smart TV and in worst cases, take control of the camera and microphone to watch and listen in. The FBI recommends searching your model number with the words "microphone", "camera", and "privacy" to quickly find the precise information. You could have to buy a model that was at least five years old to get an old-fashioned device.

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Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, commented: "The main takeaway from this advisory should be that keeping devices patched and secure should be the responsibility of the manufacturer; we can not place the burden on the average consumer to be tech-savvy enough to check settings, permissions, and apply patches". In the worst-case scenario, they could access the camera in your bedroom TV and silently cyber-stalk you, in a plot straight out of "Mr. Robot". And, as we've learned in the past, hardware companies that are making these internet-connected devices don't always make security their priority.

Place black tape over your smart TV camera if you don't use it much. Can they do this? Cybercriminals can gain access to people's homes through the device's camera or microphone.

5-Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use.

But as much as the FBI's warning is responding to genuine fears, arguably one of the bigger issues that should cause as much if not greater concerns are how much tracking data is collected on smart TV owners.

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