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Security & privacy

Smart TV security flaws let hackers infect your entire home network

Having a “smart-home” is one of the many benefits to come from modern technology. This, of course, is when your everyday appliances connect to the internet and give you more information and control than imaginable. You can even control these amazing Internet of things (IoT) items with your virtual assistant of choice.

Some of the more popular IoT gadgets are smart TVs. They have undoubtedly changed the way many of us watch television. However, if you own a smart TV, there is a new security risk that you need to know about.

Why your smart TV could be putting your security at risk

Researchers are warning smart TV owners about a new proof of concept hack that could jeopardize your security. Rafael Scheel demonstrated how the hack works at a recent European cyber security seminar. The scariest thing about the hack is the scammer wouldn’t even need physical access to your television.

To gain access to your TV, all the criminal needs is a low-cost transmitter. The scammer would send a terrestrial radio signal that could be picked up by any smart TV in the area. This malicious signal would give the cybercriminal complete control over any television that picked it up.

Scheel tested the hack on Samsung smart TVs that have known security vulnerabilities in the web browsers that run in the background. The malicious signal allowed the hacker to gain privileged root access to the televisions. Although this was only tested on Samsung models, other brands that have similar flaws would most likely be vulnerable to this hacking technique as well.

Once the hacker has access to the TV they can cause harm in many ways. The hacker could spy on the victim through the television’s camera and microphone. They could also attack other gadgets connected to the home Wi-Fi network, putting personal data and credentials at risk.

How to protect your privacy

Luckily, this hack is only a proof of concept at this point and isn’t currently being used in the U.S. However, this does point out that Internet-of-Things (IoT) gadgets come with a certain amount of risk.

Since IoT appliance infections typically reside on temporary memory, the first thing you have to do is reboot the device to clear out the malware.

Next, you need to secure your router. If you’re not sure where to start, click here for one thing your router needs to keep hackers out, and here for an easy way to find and change your router’s password.

There are also several routers that are now out of date or plagued with security problems. Is your router one of them? Click here to see the full list and find out.

Beyond that, you need to be smart with your web-connected devices. The steps it takes to secure these devices varies from product to product, so it’s a good idea to reach out to each of the manufacturers – but, here’s a general place to get started.

Also, check for firmware updates. It’s important to keep your firmware always up to date. If your gadget does not automatically fetch firmware updates, make sure to manually check at least every three months.

Finally, when dealing with smart TVs, there are already built-in privacy concerns. Certain models keep tabs on their owners in uncomfortable ways, and there’s really no good reason for this kind of shifty behavior. Click here to learn how to turn this tracking feature off on the top TV brands.

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