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Cyber Security & Data Breach Forensics Expert:
Beware,Your Smart TV May be Watching or Listening to YOU!

Computer Forensics Expert / Data Security Articles

Smart TVs are, well, a computer. If you own one, you should know the risks of using it as a web browser for banking or using it for other sensitive transactions. Hackers are going to become more interested in hacking TVs as the users are less likely to keep them secure.Samsung Logo - Cyber Security Expert - Computer Forensics Expert

Computer Forensics Expert - Data Security Expert

Smart TVs may become a hacker’s playground.

Smart TVs are, well, a computer. If you own one, you should know the risks of using it as a web browser for banking or using it for other sensitive transactions. Hackers are going to become more interested in hacking TVs as the users are less likely to keep them secure.

As people become more comfortable using their Internet connected TV to browse the web, they will undoubtedly increase their risk. Everything from online banking to ordering a pizza will become daily affairs for users of Smart TVs.

Hackers, of course, are very interested in watching this happen. Most users will not ensure their Smart TVs are updated with the latest software. This can lead to Hackers taking control of the browser on the TV and using it for nefarious purposes.

Samsung Smart TVs maybe listening to you:

In addition, some of the newer Smart TVs include a function which allows users to “Talk” to their TVs. These voice recognition TVs were designed to allow the user to navigate menus and other functions of the TV, including the browser. Samsung, in specific, has made significant strides with this technology. The bad news is for this function to work, in most cases, the voice information is transmitted over the internet for processing. This means the company, Samsung’s voice processing partner in this case, receives your voice commands (and perhaps anything else you say in front of the TV) at their servers for processing.

It is important to note, this is only supposed to happen when the microphone is displayed on the screen. This is when the voice recognition feature is on. Samsung says in its Smart TV privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition." Samsung also says this feature is only in a few models of their Smart TVs.

The Samsung Privacy Policy also indicates: “Voice information—such as recordings of your voice that we make (and may store on our servers) when you use voice commands to control a Service. (Note that we work with a third-party service provider that provides speech-to-text conversion services on our behalf. This provider may receive and store certain voice commands.)”

Turning off the always on voice recognition feature is relatively straight forward. On the TV: Go to: Settings; Smart Features; Voice Recognition. Turn that feature off. Warning, turning Voice Recognition off will prevent you from waking up your TV by saying “Hi TV”. However, the user can still access voice commands by pressing the microphone button on the remote.

Smart TVs may be watching you:

In addition, hackers have figured out a way to turn on the camera on some camera equipped TVs and transmit the voice and the video to their location. All without the person standing in front of the TV knowing that this may be happening. Imagine a hacker watching you undress or tune into private conversations between an attorney and a client in the attorney’s conference room.

Fixing the Security Issue:

There are a variety of ways you can prevent this from happening to you: 1) you can cover the camera lens and microphone with a piece of tape; 2) You could unplug or disconnect the TV from the network when the TV doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet; 3) Turn off the voice command feature (see above); 4) if none of these are of interest, be certain your TV’s software is kept up-to-date and trust that the Smart TV manufacturer stays ahead of the hackers.

Simple Security Can Make a Difference:

Unfortunately technology users don’t always leverage the security measures that are built into products. Simply encrypting wireless routers and wireless access points (WAPs) can make a big difference in the security of your network at home and at the office.

Evidence Solutions, Inc. has received calls from Smart TV owners who have detected strange activities on their TVs and were concerned that their TVs were hacked. We have no doubt but it is happening.

Make sure you watch the CNN video on this topic.


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