TECHNOLOGY

That smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns

Dec 4, 2019, 7:11 AM
In a pre-holiday message to consumers, an FBI field office is warning that "smart TVs" -- televisio...
In a pre-holiday message to consumers, an FBI field office is warning that "smart TVs" -- televisions equipped with internet streaming and facial recognition capabilities -- may be vulnerable to intrusion. (Images by Fabio/Moment RF/Getty)
(Images by Fabio/Moment RF/Getty)

(CNN) — Those Black Friday and Cyber Monday super sales are not only a boon for your bank account, but may also reap serious rewards for cyber criminals intent on causing harm, according to the FBI.

In a message to consumers, an FBI field office is warning that “smart TVs” — televisions equipped with internet streaming and facial recognition capabilities — may be vulnerable to intrusion.

In addition to outlining how new advanced technological features risk allowing television manufacturers and app developers to snoop on consumers, the bureau says malicious cyber actors can also take control of unsecured smart TVs and potentially wreak havoc on unsuspecting owners.

“Next-gen smart TVs and devices run complex software, have Internet connections, and often have integrated sensors like microphones,” says Matt Tait, cybersecurity expert and former analyst at GCHQ, the British signals intelligence service. “These features enable things like internet streaming services and voice-commands, but can unfortunately be subverted by hackers if the device gets compromised.”

“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos,” the FBI warning states. “In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”

In order to guard against possible intrusion, the FBI recommends that smart TV owners educate themselves on their device’s security settings (available from a simple Google search), change default network passwords set by manufactures, and understand how to enable and disable microphones and cameras.

If a particular smart TV does not allow the disabling of cameras, the bureau says placing black tape over the camera is one basic and simple solution to shutting out prying eyes.

Tait warns it is also extremely important for consumers to promptly install software updates routinely pushed out by smart TV manufacturers.

“Generally, customers who keep their devices up to date won’t have too much to worry about,” Tait says. “But for people who are particularly worried, or who don’t want the new “smart” features, there is a simple solution to keep hackers out: unplug the device from your network.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

Technology

The Air Force is set to unveil the newest stealth bomber aircraft on Dec. 2. Photo credit: Northrop...
Haley Britzky and Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Air Force unveils newest stealth bomber aircraft

The newest stealth bomber was unveiled on Friday in California.
1 day ago
space radio...
Elizabeth Weiler

USU making history with a radio entering the lunar orbit

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University has successfully sent a radio, created by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory into the orbit of earth’s moon.  The deep space radio is named Iris, after the Greek mythological goddess, daughter of Thaumas and Electra and messenger of the gods. The radio made its way into the orbit via a CubeSat […]
3 days ago
In this image provided by NASA, the Earth and its moon are seen from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Mon...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

NASA’s Orion reaches record-breaking distance from Earth

NASA confirmed that Orion had reached the midpoint of its uncrewed mission around the moon — about 270,000 miles (434,523 kilometers) from Earth.
4 days ago
Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform....
Clare Duffy and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Elon Musk restores Donald Trump’s Twitter account

Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform.
14 days ago
With employees with the company, the future of Twitter is in uncertain. Photo credit: Justin Sulliv...
Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Inside Twitter as ‘mass exodus’ of staffers throws platform’s future into uncertainty

With employees leaving the company, the future of Twitter is uncertain.
15 days ago
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen on Nov. 12 at NASA...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

Historic moon mission troubleshoots fuel leak issue hours before launch

The Artemis I mission to the moon could finally take place this week.
18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
That smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns