How to Stop Smart TVs From Snooping on You

Now that TVs are also smart, we not only have the advantage of being able to connect to the internet to review social networks or apps, but they also pose one more risk, a vulnerable device more than we add to the usual “fears.” If you want to avoid being spied on by the Smart TV there are some tricks that we can follow to improve privacy settings or be more secure when we are in front of it.

If you have a conventional and classic TV you are not at risk because the greatest danger is getting hooked on a program that you find or that you call some number 800 when you zapping. But if it is connected to the Internet it can be the target of viruses and malware, of hackers who take advantage of that we rely more on this than on other devices like mobile a computer.

Is it more insecure than other devices?

As always, it depends on our use and how we use this TV. We will have more risks if we use applications of dubious reliability, download series or movies from pirated websites, introduce memories or pendrives that we have used on shared computers, etc. The advantage is that most users don’t browse with their TV and just download apps, just use the ones that come by default and that makes us not in danger in most cases.

But it is advisable to take a number of precautions because they can collect personalinformation, we can compromise passwords and may even jeopardize privacy if they have cameras or if something is connected externally. The usual measures are the usual ones (avoid unreliable pages, extreme care with your data, do not provide banking information…)

Watch out for WiFi and the network

Typically, your TV is connected to your home WiFi network or via cable. And it makes sense that this network is protected. You can configure your router to improve security. In case you are connected to a public network (something that seems unlikely) or to a shared network (you live in a residence, in a flat with many people…) extreme security measures with the WiFi network and look for a VPN that can be compatible. Don’t connect your TV to a public WiFi network in any way and use strong, secure passwords to access WiFi. No 123456 or QWERTY.

Use a firewall

If your router allows it, turn on the firewall. You can also turn it on directly on some TV models but not all of them include it. In any case, use it whenever it is available or switch to a router that allows it.

Watch out for pages, links

We don’t usually use TV to browse the same way you do with your mobile phone or computer because we don’t usually make online purchases, for example. But you do have to take the usual measures that are advised to maintain privacy and security on the Internet:do not click on links of dubious reliability, do not enter pages that may be dangerous, do not trust any offer or give your personal data. If you use your TV to watch online series through pirated pages, it can be one of the main causes of you ending up with malware or viruses that may pose problems later on. When browsing, look for secure encryption. And if you download files always do so from verified pages that assure you that what you’re adding to your TV is completely reliable.

Change the settings

Most Smart TVs have all sorts of options for you to modify your privacy settings and get a more secure result. On Samsung, for example, you’ll be able to go to the “Smart Security” section that will trigger an analysis of your TV and be able to analyze if there is anything that is putting you in danger.

Turn on automatic updates

In case there are any security holes, automatic updates will allow this to be fixed. In the case of Samsung just go to Menu and under “Technical Support” you can find the option “Software Update”. These updates are usually done automatically but check this section to see what has been done. From here you can see two options: Update Now or Auto Update. Set up the update on your TV. In the case of LG you can also access from Settings > General > About this TV > check for updates. You can check the “Allow automatic updates” option to be able to take care of this section.

Adjust privacy

It will depend on the TV you can change the TV settings. For example, android TV allows you to stop sharing information. Android is on many TVs today as the default operating system and shares all kinds of information such as device name, zip code, location, device settings or device ID. Google also has information if we link our account and will have information in our name, email, URL and profile picture, etc.

But if you want this to not happen, you can stop sharing information from Your Smart TV with Android TV so that Google can’t use personal information or share it with third parties, for example.

  • Tap on the microphone button on your controller
  • Say “Disable sharing information”

You’ll be able to turn it back on whenever you want, but you’ll prevent the information from being shared.

 

Turn off microphones

Maybe you’ve seen a message on your screen asking for permission to turn on microphones and voice recognition so you can control your TV without a controller. Do not allow these accesses and thus prevent a malware from listening to you. Normally TV brands won’t listen to you (check terms and conditions well) but accessing the microphone can cause problems in the event of a security hole that some hacker can take advantage of. Find among the settings to mute the microphone and review the permissions you may have granted to the TV in installed games or apps.

 

Watch out for pendrives or external memories

If you’re using an external hard drive or USB drive, make sure it’s not infected. If you’ve used that same device to print documents in a public center or if you’ve used it on work or faculty computers, format before you put it on TV or check for any dangerous files. You may cause malware to reach your Smart TV through this medium. You can also scan its contents on your computer before using it through some specialized program that detects malware on external drives. You’ll be able to enter it knowing it’s no risk. Or use antivirus (explained below) to scan these types of external drives.

 

Cover the camera

It may seem exaggerated, but if you want more privacy, you’d better prevent it. If your Smart TV has a built-in camera on the front, cover it with anything you can think of. Usually pasting a piece of paper into the camera is an option for the computer but can be uncomfortable in the case of the TV. Look for a small fragment of dark duct tape or point it with a pen and place it right on the front, where the camera sensor. So in the case of malware or hacking you can avoid being spyed on when you are at home or on the couch and some software captures images.

 

Check out all the apps

On your Smart TV you install all kinds of applications: to watch tv shows, connect to social networks, games that you control through a Bluetooth controller. Be suspicious if you’re asked for voice, video, personal data or take control. Avoid accepting permissions for apps that don’t trust you such as games or apps that install. And always avoid using app stores other than your TV’s own to prevent apps with malware.

 

Use an antivirus

Usually, some televisions incorporate their own antivirus. And if you don’t incorporate it, you should consider which operating system you have installed to choose one or the other when downloading it and whether it’s available.

 

ESET Smart TV Security is one of the most complete and is available for any Android-enabled TV. Once you have it, just go to the Google Play Store and download it. The great advantage is that it not only scans the TV for malware but is also able to analyze if you have USB devices connected and thus make sure to avoid any risk. It is free although there is a paid version antiphising or that allows periodic analysis programs in case we forget to activate it from time to time.

In case you have a Samsung TV that works with Tizen operating system, you won’t have to worry about antivirus because it has an integrated McAfee one that is automatically activated. All you have to do is search for “Smart Security” and do a scan. You’ll also be able to see if there are items that have been isolated because they’re potentially dangerous and you’ll find them in the TV’s “Isolated List”.

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