Federal Bureau of Investigation warns about snoopy smart TVs spying on you

Alonzo Simpson
December 4, 2019

The FBI has issued a statement which details how your Smart TV could be a digital security risk.

In a nutshell: Smart TVs are incredibly popular, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday sees more consumers invest in the technology.

Since Black Friday has just finished, many participants in the sales would have grabbed a new snazzy TV for their family living room.

Potential smart TV owners were advised that hackers who had taken control of an unsecured set could do anything from messing around with volume controls to showing inappropriately violent or sexually explicit videos to children. But like any internet-connected device, they can be a convenient portal for hackers, as the FBI's Portland field office pointed out in a warning to consumers last week.

It goes on to say that the risk starts with the possibility of TB manufacturers and app developers could be watching and listening to you - potentially for marketing purposes. It added, "A$3 television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV's camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you". Not only that, many smart TVs come with a camera and a microphone.

The bureau noted that U.S. citizens can report cyber-fraud to either their local FBI office, or online via the Internet Crime Complaint Centre.

Resident Evil 3 Remake covers leak ahead of suspected Game Awards reveal
Earlier this year Resident Evil 2 Remake producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi said a Resident Evil 3 Remake was possible. For more on the game we do know exists, check out our thoughts from our hands-on of Project Resistance .


In particular the Bureau points out that smart TVs may not be as secure as people may think, especially as they are dependent on an internet connection to empower much of the smart functionality and access streaming services like Netflix. The FBI recommends searching your model number with the words "microphone", "camera", and "privacy" to quickly find the precise information.

Numerous most devious smart TV exploits in recent years were developed by the Central Intelligence Agency - and later stolen and put on the black market.

Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, commented: "The main takeaway from this advisory should be that keeping devices patched and secure should be the responsibility of the manufacturer; we can not place the burden on the average consumer to be tech-savvy enough to check settings, permissions, and apply patches". You could have to buy a model that was at least five years old to get an old-fashioned device. If you can't turn the camera off, place a piece of black tape over the eye, a time-tested strategy for privacy-sensitive laptop users.

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. Look for the data they collect and what they do with it.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER