It would seem that certain types of recently released 'Smart' TVs have set out to disrupt the viewing experience by inverting the flow and making you the object of their deliverables!!!
Shortly before Friday 29th November this year (the so-called Black Friday for the US retail sector) those masters of surveillance black arts, the FBI, issued a warning to owners of smart TVs that when connected to the internet to access streaming services could potentially be used to spy on them!
In a press release issued on Tuesday 26th November 2019, by the agency's Portland field office, they advised the following:
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 that allow you to video chat with grandma in 42" glory.
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.
Press release from the FBI's Portland, Oregon, USA office, November, 2019
- 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. Can they do this? Have they done it in the past?
Given their propensity for watching us it came as a pleasant surprise to get the tip-off from the agency.
It did also reminded us of the funny that was doing the rounds recently concerning other 'intrusive domestic appliances':