We are now in the 21st century!
But things changed when the 21st century began.
TV industry went through a major transformation with the arrival of flat-screen TVs. These new TVs were thinner, lighter, and used less energy compared to the old CRT ones that used a curved screen.
As time passed, these TVs got smarter and smarter, and they became widely known as “Smart TVs.”
So, What Exactly Is Smart TV?
Unlike old-style TVs that mainly get their shows through cable, satellite, or antennas, Smart TVs can connect to the internet using Wi-Fi or Ethernet and provide a bunch of extra features and functions.
Here are some key things a Smart TV can do:
- Connect to the internet.
- Download apps just like you do on your phone or computer.
- Stream stuff straight from the internet.
- Work with your smart home stuff.
- Even lets you surf the web.
Hidden Things Smart TV Can Do
While smart TVs offer a lot of conveniences on one screen, there are some important issues to be aware of.
Here are a few unexpected features that smart TVs often have:
1) Data Collection and Privacy Concerns
Smart TVs and the apps they use, like Netflix, YouTube, and web browsers, gather a ton of information about you.
This data is often sold to various companies, sometimes multiple times.
This information is used for things like showing you personalized ads and suggesting content you might like.
For instance, back in 2017, Vizio, a smart TV maker, got fined $2.2 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of New Jersey. They were collecting data on what 11 million people were watching on their TVs without getting permission or even letting people know.
Vizio’s TVs were basically spying on what you were watching and sending that information to their servers. They even updated older TVs with this tracking software remotely.
Then, they sold all this info about what people were watching to advertisers and data companies.
Even though Vizio deleted the data collected before March 1, 2016, other TV makers might still be doing similar things, and that’s a big concern!
2) Built-in Cameras and Microphones
Not all TVs have cameras, but high-end Smart TVs come with built-in cameras and microphones for video conferencing and voice control.
These are cool features, but here is a big security concern!
FBI warned that smart TVs equipped with cameras, microphones, and facial recognition technology are often poorly secured by their manufacturers compared to computers or smartphones, which opens up a secret tunnel to cyber-criminals.
Once hackers exploit these and get access to the home networks, they take several footage of the victim’s bedroom and then start to blackmail.
Here are some incidents:
- In 2018, bug incidents in several Sony smart TVs allowed cybercriminals to break into home Wi-Fi networks and gain access to users’ personal data.
- Consumer Reports released a report in 2018 showing that Samsung and Roku Smart TVs were vulnerable to hacking.
3) Smart TV Malware and Security Risks
Just like computers and smartphones, Smart TVs can also be targeted by malicious software (malware) and hackers.
When a Smart TV gets hacked, it means that someone unauthorized gains access to it and can potentially do harmful things.
Here’s how you can protect your TV from hacking:
- Change Default Passwords: Smart TVs often come with default passwords like 1111 or 0000. Change these passwords to something strong and unique. Default passwords are easy for hackers to guess.
- Update Your TV’s Software: Manufacturers release updates (kind of like software upgrades) for Smart TVs to fix security issues and improve performance. Make sure your TV is always running the latest version.
- Be Careful with Apps: Only download and install apps from trusted sources, like the official app store that comes with your TV. Avoid downloading apps from random websites or sources you don’t know.
4) Voice Assistant Recordings
Many Smart TVs come with voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. When you talk to these voice assistants, they listen to what you say and save it.
They store these recordings on their server and often use them for their own purposes!
To be clear, there’s no major security worry here because you’re not sharing private info with Alexa or Echo!
You’re just asking them for what you need!
However, they use these recordings to understand your behavior, interests, and preferences. Once they figure out what you like, they show you more personalized ads to make more money.
While it’s not a big concern, you can turn this off in the settings if you want!
Just go to your voice assistant settings, and you can check and control what recordings are saved and how long they’re kept. This way, you have more say in what your voice assistant does and records.
Q: What is a Smart TV, and how does it differ from a regular TV?
A Smart TV is a television that can connect to the internet and offers additional features beyond traditional TVs.
It can stream content from online services, run apps, and interact with other smart devices. Unlike regular TVs, Smart TVs have built-in computing capabilities.
Q: What are the potential dangers of using a Smart TV?
Smart TVs can pose certain risks, including privacy concerns due to data collection, hacking vulnerabilities, and exposure to inappropriate content, especially for children.
Additionally, they can become targets for malware and cyberattacks.
Q: How can I protect my privacy when using a Smart TV?
To protect your privacy, always review and adjust your Smart TV’s privacy settings.
Be cautious about granting unnecessary permissions to apps, use strong passwords, keep your firmware updated, and consider using a virtual private network (VPN) for added security.
Q: Are Smart TVs susceptible to hacking, and what can I do to prevent it?
Yes, Smart TVs can be vulnerable to hacking.
To reduce the risk, keep your TV’s software up-to-date, disable unused features like remote control apps, and secure your home Wi-Fi network with a strong password.
Regularly check for firmware updates from the manufacturer.
Abdul Kader, a handy guy and experienced founder of a TV repair shop in Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is mainly an expert in understanding and repairing different types of issues with Smart TVs and providing helpful insights on how to keep them in good working order. Read his Full Story.