Sure, a new smart TV sounds like the perfect piece of tech to add to your home, especially if it’s on sale for the holidays. But the FBI wants to remind us to make sure we’re shopping safe.
That’s right: the feeling your TV is watching you has gone from tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists to the real deal.
The FBI says the same internet connection that allows you to instantly open popular services and stream your favorite shows or movies could also leave you open to security threats.
Here’s what the FBI field office in Portland suggests:
— Know the exact features of your smart TV: do a basic internet search with your model number and the words ‘microphone,’ ‘camera’ and ‘privacy.’
— Don’t default to manufacturer security settings: change the password if you can and know how to turn off any microphones, cameras and personal information if possible.
— If you can’t turn off a camera, place a simple piece of black tape over the camera lens to block it.
— Check the manufacturer’s ability to update your device with security patches.
“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that [unsecured] television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home,” the FBI wrote in a press release. “They can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos…In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TVs camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”
Lastly, you can report cyber fraud through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or your local FBI office.