The FBI Is Warning That Smart-TVs Can Be Hacked and Used to Spy on and Record People in Their Homes

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The FBI field office on Portland, Oregon, posted a warning on it website that many smart TVs now include a camera and microphone that allows manufacturers and app developers to listen and watch anyone near the TV. Even computers are at risk. A hacker or a government agency may not be able to access your computer directly, but now they can gain access through you cable router. It is even possible to take control of built-in cameras and microphones. TV manufacturers are collecting data from these systems to analyze our activities, habits, preferences, and even reactions to program content. [Ultimately, through sophisticated facial-recognition software, it will be possible to tell by your facial expressions and body language whether you approve or object to a certain political proposition and, thereby, to reward or punish you for politically correct or incorrect attitudes. This already is happening in China, and governments around the world can hardly wait until they, too, have this technology. Smart TVs will play a major role in that.] -GEG

If you just bought a smart TV on Black Friday or plan to buy one for Cyber Monday tomorrow, the FBI wants you to know a few things.

Smart TVs are like regular television sets but with an internet connection. With the advent and growth of Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, most saw internet-connected televisions as a cord-cutter’s dream. But like anything that connects to the internet, it opens up smart TVs to security vulnerabilities and hackers. Not only that, many smart TVs come with a camera and a microphone. But as is the case with most other internet-connected devices, manufacturers often don’t put security as a priority.

That’s the key takeaway from the FBI’s Portland field office, which just ahead of some of the biggest shopping days of the year posted a warning on its website about the risks that smart TVs pose.

“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,” wrote the FBI.

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.

Active attacks and exploits against smart TVs are rare, but not unheard of. Because every smart TV comes with their manufacturer’s own software and are at the mercy of their often unreliable and irregular security patching schedule, some devices are more vulnerable than others. Earlier this year, hackers showed it was possible to hijack Google’s Chromecast streaming stick and broadcast random videos to thousands of victims.

In fact, some of the biggest exploits targeting smart TVs in recent years were developed by the Central Intelligence Agency, but were stolen. The files were later published online by WikiLeaks.

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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The FBI is Warning That Smart-TVs can be Hacked and Used to Spy on and Record People in their Homes

[…] Posted December 27, 2019 The FBI field office on Portland, Oregon, posted a warning on it website that many smart TVs now include a camera and microphone that allows manufacturers and app developers to listen and watch anyone near the TV.  Read more. […]