These days it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a TV that isn’t smart. By next year, there will be almost 120 million smart TV users in the US.
Smart TVs are a major improvement over the chunky box sets of the past. With them, you can connect to the internet, use Netflix and Prime, and even download apps and games. Unfortunately, this same connectivity makes them vulnerable to a range of different privacy and security risks.
So, if you’re thinking about upgrading to a Smart TV or already have a few in your home, here is what you need to know to be safe.
The Privacy and Security Risk of Smart TVs
With Smart TVs, the possibility that somebody’s actually watching you is much higher than with a traditional set.
The biggest problem is that they have pretty lax security. Think about your smartphone or computer. You not only have antivirus software but receive security updates pretty often. Even with all this, you still can get hacked!
Smart TVs have comparably little built-in security. Manufacturers either don’t or rarely update their firmware. This means if a hacker finds a vulnerability, you could be at risk of attack and not even know about it.
Worse yet, your TV may be listening to you. If you have a microphone and a camera, you have no idea who might be recording what you say and do. A few years ago, security researchers found that Samsung TVs had no encryption, but voice recordings and frequently sent audio data through unsecured channels.
In addition, many TVs now have Automatic Content Recognition. This is to create personalized ads, and while this is similar to what you experience on your computer/mobile phone, there is little Smart TV support for ad blockers and other privacy tools.
All in all, this creates a risky security situation that you need to take steps to address.
How to Deal With Smart TV Security Threats
Taking action to protect your Smart TV is easier than you realize. Here a few easy ways you can promote your security and privacy now:
1. Upgrade Your Password Security
Our Smart TVs are a password hub! You likely have Netflix, Disney, Prime, Hulu, and other accounts. You don’t want to get locked out of your accounts. But if you recycle the same password, hackers can easily do that on all your streaming platforms and even your other important online accounts.
For that reason, you should use a password generator to create strong, unique, and complex passwords. To keep track of all these passwords, use a password manager like NordPass. These security digital vaults not only keep you safer but make it easier for you to access your accounts. It’s a total win-win.
2.Update Your TVs Operating System
Some TV manufacturers actually do patch their operating systems. But the trick is you have to initiate the update cycle since few will be able to do this automatically.
Updating is pretty easy. Just check your settings once a month to see if one’s available, then hit okay.
3. Use a VPN
Many streamers love VPNs or virtual private networks for all the amazing content they unlock. But you may not realize you can use a VPN (a virtual private network) on your TV.
These days, you have two options. Some TVs will allow you to download a VPN in their app store. Or you can install one on your router directly.
Either way, VPNs not only get you more content, but they make your TV much more secure by encrypting your internet connection. Talk about the perfect win-win for your streaming pleasure.
4. Check Your Settings
Smart TVs generally have some privacy settings you can tweak that will increase your security. Go for the most restrictive option possible. This will include not sending data usage reports, preventing unauthorized app access, and few other improvements over the default setup.
You should also consider disabling your microphone and camera or finding ways to turn them off when not in use.
5. Don’t Connect Your TV to the Internet
This may seem a little extreme, but it is the best way to be safe. You might be wondering, “But how do I stream Netflix?”
Streaming devices like Apple TV and Chromecast are a bit safer. Instead, you can use your computer as an entertainment hub. This will give you access to more content flexibility, including your downloaded library, while being much more private and secure.
Keep Your Smart TV Safe
Smart TVs are a huge improvement over the old antenna days of the past. But you do need to be a little more careful. Be safe and start implementing these strategies and tools now!