Imagine buying a shield — only to have someone rip it out of your hands and beat you with it. Metaphorically speaking, that can happen when you don’t secure smart home devices.
Take your security devices, for instance. If you don’t protect them with strong passwords, the tech you bought to protect yourself can put you in danger. Tap or click here for four ways to keep hackers out of your smart home security cameras.
Bottom line: Hackers can break into anything in your smart home. That’s why you must secure your internet-connected devices — including your smart TV. If you’ve wondered, “Can someone see me through my smart TV?” the answer might be yes.
How hackers get into your smart TV
You might not even realize there’s a camera on your smart TV. But there likely is! They’re more common than ever before.
Maybe you read this and wondered, “Do all smart TVs have cameras in 2022?” Not all of them have cameras. It depends on the brand and model you buy.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can make video calls on TV, you probably have a camera. Tap or click here for five more things you didn’t know your smart TV could do.
To spot the camera, search the edges of your TV screen. Look closely enough, and you should be able to find the hidden lens.
Sure, your smart TV’s camera is useful. But it’s also risky.
Let’s say you connected your smart TV to your home’s network. If a hacker breaches your home network, everything attached to your system is in danger. You guessed it: That includes your TV.
A motivated hacker could record you through your smart TV. Imagine what your private moments could be worth in the wrong hands. If you don’t protect your network, you may be inviting creeps, from perverts to government-sanctioned stalkers.
Yep, that happened. According to Forbes, the CIA used malware to break in and listen to people through their Samsung smart TVs in 2014.
Maybe you’ve been alone in the house and felt like you weren’t truly alone. Perhaps you wondered, “Can someone see me through my smart TV?” Without further ado, here are three ways to determine if your smart TV was hacked.
1. Want to find out if your smart TV was hacked? Look for strange setting changes
Hackers won’t announce their presence. They want to bide their time and collect private data right under your nose. To sniff them out, check your settings and see if anything has changed.
There are subtle red flags to look out for, like:
- The camera or microphone icon pops up: This could be a sign that someone else is using your device. However, it could also be that you hit the mic button on the remote by accident.
- Random pop-ups appear on your screen: Malware can be the source behind strange pop-ups, though it’s possible that Roku is trying to show you ads.
- Sudden volume changes: Maybe your volume is much lower than you wanted, right after you turned it up. This could mean hackers are fiddling with your settings and turning down the volume, so you don’t hear any of your smart TV’s sound effects.
2. You find unfamiliar video files in your folders
Many smart TVs have internal storage. Everything depends on the brand and model, but you can root around the settings section to find your device preferences and storage folders. Dig around enough, and you might find weird webcam video files you didn’t record or save on your own.
Once you find these, it’s time to change your Wi-Fi and router passwords. Tap or click here for a few ways to create strong, hard-to-crack passwords. While you’re at it, double-check your app usage, too.
3. Check your app usage to find out if your smart TV was hacked
So you suspect that someone is watching you through your smart TV. But you want to ensure you’re dealing with a smart TV hack before you start Googling phrases like “How do you stop your smart TV from spying on you,” or “Can someone see me through my smart TV?”
One quick way to find out is by opening your settings and checking your smart TV’s app usage. In the apps section on your smart TV, you can see how much time you spend on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Apple TV and more. This can help pinpoint any strange app activity.
- Have trouble finding apps on your smart TV? The exact steps you need to take depend on the type of smart TV you’re using.
- Good news: We put together a guide that breaks it all down, step by step and brand by brand. Tap or click here to find and manage apps on your smart TV.
Now that you’re looking through your app usage, try to find strange activity. Maybe an app has been used recently, but you can’t remember using it. Unauthorized app usage or activity suggests hackers got into your smart TV. Just make sure to double-check with everyone else who lives in your home, too.
BONUS: To find out if your smart TV was hacked, check your credit card transactions
Most hackers have one thing on the brain: Money. Breaking into your smart TV gives hackers a few money-making opportunities. They can use this invasion to take over the rest of your system.
Once they find your passwords, they have the keys to the kingdom. They might find your financial information and start buying stuff with your credit cards.
So check with both your bank and your internet service provider. If you find any unauthorized charges, that’s yet another sign your smart TV was hacked. If cybercriminals stole your financial data, make sure to freeze your credit so they can’t open accounts in your name.
How to protect your smart TV from hackers
Now that you know you’re dealing with a smart TV hack, there’s one silver lining: You know what you’re dealing with. Use these tips to stop someone from connecting to your smart TV:
- Opt for a wired connection: It’s easy for criminals to hijack a wireless connection. You may want to switch to wired for more protection.
- Update your smart TV’s software: Regular system updates are non-negotiable. Cybersecurity experts patch old bugs in each update. Downloading them helps you stay safe.
- Protect your router: Change these router settings to keep hackers out of your home.
- Disconnect your smart TV’s Wi-Fi when you aren’t using it: This may be inconvenient, but it’s worth the extra 30 seconds it’ll take to turn the Wi-Fi on the next time you watch.
- Use strong passwords: Make sure you aren’t using the 20 worst passwords.
While you’re at it, only download reputable TV apps like the ones from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more. We know you might want to save a buck and take a chance on a free service — but there are too many shady ones hiding malware.
Luckily, we researched for you. We found a few free apps that are 100% legitimate and won’t cause your smart TV any problems. Tap or click here for 15 safe streaming services you can use to watch free movies online.