Hackers usually target smartphones and computers, and manufacturers have been vigilant in releasing security patches to prevent unsolicited breaches.
With the advent of the Internet of Things and Smart Home technology however, more and more entry points are opening up to malicious invaders on the Web. One of these is the Smart TV.
According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), about 46 percent of U.S. households are using Smart TV sets, and that figure is expected to increase beyond 50 percent by the end of the year. The CTA predicts that about 70 percent of TVs sold this year will have internet connectivity.
Attacks are made possible through the device's ability to run source codes for applications and its unsecured connection to the internet. Moreover, since most attacks have been concentrated around smartphones and computers, most security options are limited to these, leaving other internet-capable devices - like Smart TVs - neglected. This is a welcome invitation that hackers will definitely take advantage of.
Personal information like passwords and credit card information can then be easily stolen, and viewing habits taken advantage of. Apparently, not all hackers have the same malicious intent - some of these can be the companies you're buying products from who use your personal information for advertising purposes.
In most cases, these data-mining techniques are hidden from the user and are reportedly secluded under the guise of the product's features. Some examples are Vizio's Smart Interactivity, LG's Smart Ad and Samsung's voice recognition software.
Fortunately, there are preventive measures users can implement to stay on top of their personal security. Here are some of them:
• Keep your device's firmware updated and install the latest patches from developers as soon as these become available.
• Always check the manual, features and settings for any option that may be another term for data-mining.
• Do not perform bank-related activities on your Smart TV. Use a secure smartphone or computer instead.
• Download Android security apps on your Android-based TV because these can be run by the smart appliance.
• Perform malware scans on a regular basis to keep off harmful threats.
• Set up separate networks for your Smart TV and personal gadgets to keep intruders from easily accessing your devices.
• Cover the camera when not in use to avoid any unwelcome viewing from third parties.
• Do not hastily click on messages that display on screen unless these are from a reliable and trusted source. Better yet, avoid accepting any at all.
• Be as cautious as you would be on a personal computer when visiting sites on the Smart TV.
• Only stick to personal viewing entertainment on the TV while keeping other activities, like social media browsing, on secured gadgets.
• Disconnect from the internet when the Smart TV is not in use.
• When in doubt, ask the manufacturer for clarifications and even helpful ways that can prevent security breaches through the Smart TV.
The steps listed here do not guarantee a full protection 24/7 but should at least be effective in keeping attackers at bay. As always, staying vigilant and on top of your security protocols is the best way to avoid any vulnerabilities. Even better, sticking to a traditional offline TV would be safer until companies up their game in terms of providing security support for Smart TVs.
Photo: Catalin Cimpanu | Flickr