Warning: Smart TVs Are The IoT Gateway Into Your Home

The FBI has issued two warnings to New Year consumers intending to buy a new Smart TV and thinking about about other Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices in their home. Internet connected televisions could be used by criminals to hack into your home computer network and spy on your every move. 
 
The FBI warning  cautions the  public that an unsecured TV that is connected to the Internet could be used as a conduit for cyber-criminals to gain virtual entry into a home. Another concern is that hackers can use that innocent device to do a virtual drive-by of your digital life.
 
Unsecured devices can allow hackers a path into your router, giving the bad guy access to everything else on your home network that you thought was secure. In fact, most of the smart home devices you connect to your router have almost no security at all, which means it's important to take steps to secure your home network as a whole. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to strengthen your security.
 
Use Encryption on Your WiFi Router
You wouldn't believe how many people leave their wireless router open to the public. Considering your WiFi is the entry to your home network, it would be like leaving your front door unlocked and open for anyone to walk in. I think we can all agree that's a bad idea. Instead, use encryption such as WPA2, and use a secure password. 
 
Also, change the name for router to something that isn't associated with your name or your address. That makes it harder for would-be hackers to pinpoint your location based on the name of your network. Also, it should go without saying, but let's just say it: never, ever, ever use the default name or password for any device. 
 
Smart TVs are called that because they connect to the Internet. They allow you to use popular streaming services and apps. Many also have microphones for those of us who are too lazy to actually to pick up the remote. Just shout at your set that you want to change the channel or turn up the volume and you are good to go. A number of the newer TV’s also have built-in cameras. In some cases, the cameras are used for facial recognition so the TV knows who is watching and can suggest programming appropriately. There are also devices coming to market now that allow you to video chat on a domestic big-screen  TV
 
Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home.
 
A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router.Hackers can also take control of your unsecured TV. At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.
 
TVs and Internet of Things technology are a big part of our lives, and they aren’t going away. So how can you protect your family?
  • Know exactly what features your TV has and how to control those features. Do a basic Internet search with your model number and the words “microphone,” “camera,” and “privacy.”
  • Don’t depend on the default security settings. Change passwords if you can, and know how to turn off the microphones, cameras, and collection of personal information if possible. If you can’t turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.
  • If you can’t turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option.
  • Check the manufacturer’s ability to update your device with security patches.
  • Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it. 
  • Change the device’s factory settings from the default password.
  • Secure your network. Your fridge and your laptop should not be on the same network. Keep your most private, sensitive data on a separate system from your other IoT devices.
  • Make sure all your devices are updated regularly. If automatic updates are available for software, hardware, and operating systems, turn them on.
Shoppers were also need to be aware of the iportance of checking the privacy policises of both  the TV manufacturer and the streaming services they use and to confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.
 
FBI:           Infosecurity-Magazine:         Express:       Inc.com
 
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