5 Security and Privacy Tips for Smart TVs
Smart TVs aren’t necessarily “bad,” and they certainly aren’t going away any time soon. But it’s important to remember that they’re essentially specialized connected computers, and they deserve just as much care and awareness as would a laptop or smartphone. The following five tips can help you practice better security behaviors and teach you how to secure your smart TV.
- Turn off the WiFi. Disconnecting a smart TV from the internet limits its functionality — it’s basically a “dumb” TV — but it also limits the data leaking out of your living room. Connecting it to a separate streaming box or dongle carries some risks, but these devices “at least give you a little more control, or at the very least act the way you’d expect them to,” according Brian Barrett, Wired’s security news editor.
- Review the privacy settings. In the rush to set up a TV, it’s tempting to leave default settings in place and click “agree” when it comes to privacy and data collection policies. How to find and change these settings depends on the TV; you may need to consult the manual or contact customer support. Consumer Reports offers this general advice: “Reset the TV to factory settings. Then, as you go through the setup process, say yes to the most basic privacy policies and terms of service but don’t agree to the collection of viewing data.”
- Keep software/firmware updated. Nobody enjoys waiting for a device to update, but your TV needs timely security patches, just like your smartphone or computer. In fact, the CIA documents released by WikiLeaks included a smart TV security exploit that “worked as long as the target hadn’t upgraded the firmware,” according to security researcher Brian Krebs. Your TV may allow you to enable automatic updates.
- Cover the camera when not in use. If your TV has a built-in camera, you should make conscious decisions about when (and when not) to use it. Even if your TV isn’t compromised by a hacker, covering the camera helps you avoid accidentally broadcasting your living room.
- Mind the microphone. Unless you really “need” it, consider turning off any voice recognition features on your TV. At the very least, review the microphone privacy settings and limit access as much as possible.
For additional advice applicable to smart TVs, check out our IoT Q&A and Security Checklist infographic.