Smart TVs are entering into our lives just as overwhelmingly as did the smartphones. However, it is great that they have not yet invaded our lives completely.
Wondering why did we say so?
Well, the smart TVs are still under research about their pros and cons, and the subsequent impact on our routine.
Thanks to Consumer Reports that has unveiled a horrifying aspect of Smart TVs for us. According to their study, Smart TVs can actually be used as a tool for hacking attacks.
Hackers Can Access Your Smart TVs to Gain Information
Consumer Reports has recently reported about its findings regarding Samsung and Roku Smart TVs.
They purchased and analyzed the smart TVs from the top five selling brands – Samsung, TCL, Sony, LG, and Vizio.
These TVs were brought under various privacy and security tests.
According to the results, Samsung and TCL badly failed even on the most basic security tests. Whereas, the other three brands also showed potential vulnerabilities to hacking.
However, those vulnerabilities were not as dangerous and did not contribute to leaking user data.
The reports highlighted that hackers could attack Samsung and all the models of TCL that work on Roku’s technology.
According to the researcher, the hackers might not steal a user’s personal or sensitive information from the smart TV.
Nevertheless, they can do horrifying things to your TV, even when you are watching – such as changing the channels, raising the volume up, play offensive content, and other similar actions like spying on you via the set.
The hacking attacks are easily possible over the web.
Is it Threatening?
Eason Goodale, the lead engineer of Disconnect, pointed out that Roku devices sport a less secure API which makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
According to the CR security test reports, the user data may not be retrieved from a smart TV unless the user connects the TV to the home network, and then downloads a malicious app or file on the laptop or smartphone through the same network.
For the privacy tests, Consumer Reports mentions that all the brands asked for permissions to gather user data.
Though it sounds like a restriction, it actually plays no significant protection.
During various installations, a user is bound to give full access to the apps to enjoy all features.
Denying even the most basic features will result in your smart TV becoming dumb!
Hence, it is easier to gain access via a smart TV when you have given full access to it.
The Guilty TV Brands’ Stake
Upon highlighting the flaws, Samsung modestly thanked the reporters for highlighting this issue. They also committed to upgrading the API for more secure functionality.
However, Roku authorities denied the results by saying that the Roku API features are secure and that the user can swiftly turn off any external features through the settings.
They claim that they use to take strict measures for consumer privacy. They further urge the users to keep their Wi-Fi connections protected via passwords to prevent any potential hacker attacks.
Possible Solution a Consumer Could Do
Buy a dumb older TV!
This is what you would have just thought of after knowing this news.
But, obviously, you cannot revert back to your tech advancements only because of a probable hacker attack.
Nor you can find more of such TVs in the market right now.
According to Consumer Reports, only 16 out of the 200 TV sets in 2017 were not among the smart TVs.
This year, we can thus expect a further drop in this percentage of old TVs.
So what preemptive measures can you take to protect you and your smart TV? A slight changing in the settings may help such as the ones listed below.
- Reset Factory Settings – revert back all the changes you had made to your smart TV to the preset factory settings. Then, while reconfiguring, just choose the most basic options for your TV, that doo, without allowing any collection of data.
- Turn off ACR – Digging down deep into the settings will reveal all the ACR settings to you. Turn them off and protect yourself. If you face difficulty, contact the maker’s customer support and ask them about ACR. In this way, you will also indirectly make them realize that you are concerned about your privacy! Probably they could strengthen their security systems!
- Turn off WiFi – That is painful, but a permanent solution. Forget that you once had a smart TV. Just turn off the WiFi connection on the TV and enjoy safe viewing. Or, if you have become too reliant on technology, get a separate connection for your TV.
The CR’s latest report suffices to jolt our minds regarding this new means of hacker attempts. Undoubtedly this could trigger further studies about how to make the user experience for smart TV safe and secure.