How to keep your Smart TV safe
There is a lot of convenience and fun that comes with having a Smart TV in your home. You can connect to web browsers, stream all your favorite shows with apps like Netflix and Hulu, and even play video games while chatting with friends online.
But with all that fun comes the risk factors of hackers and malware trying to invade your device, just like they could with a smartphone or computer.
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Can my smart TV be hacked?
The short answer is yes. But before you get too worried, it’s important to know that the chances of smart TVs being hacked are much less likely than your other smart devices. Many smart TVs don’t come with camera or microphone capabilities, so hackers aren’t usually as interested in trying to get into these devices because they wouldn’t be able to spy on your home. But those hackers who might want to install malware on your TV are another story.
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Is my smart TV at risk of malware?
Any Smart device can become infected with malware, but again, Smart TVs are not usually the devices that experience this inconvenience. Although it has happened in the past with both Samsung and Apple TV, these cases are extremely rare, and here’s why:
It is very difficult to create a virus that works on a Smart TV
Operating systems on a Smart TV are very different from a phone or computer. Smart TVs are not capable of writing any kind of code on the chipsets they were designed on, meaning a malware author would have to write entirely new code for that TV to allow the malware to take over. In short, it’s a long and difficult process that most malware authors haven’t taken the time to perform.
Smart TVs have digital signatures
Malware doesn’t use digital signatures, but smart TVs use them every time their firmware is updated. Therefore, if malware were to appear on your Smart TV, the device would ignore it and it would not be able to do anything malicious. And the next time the TV’s firmware is updated again, a new code will come with the update and remove the malware completely.
Malware wouldn’t access much on your Smart TV
If your Smart TV has a camera and microphone feature, you’re probably more susceptible to malware spying on you. But if it doesn’t, there’s really not much for malware to access other than the TV’s settings and configuration files, which most malware authors aren’t particularly interested in anyway.
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Steps to keep your Smart TV protected
While the chances of your Smart TV being hacked or infected with malware are relatively low, there are still steps to take for extra protection just to be safe:
Disable ads and tracking on Smart TV
Disabling ads and tracking on your smart TV will largely limit your TV from collecting data about you and the content you watch. How to disable this feature on Samsung, LG and Vizio TVs:
- Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Privacy > Privacy Options
- Select Show information services to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Speech Recognition Services to adjust speech data collection
- Go to Settings > Additional Settings > General
- Select Live Plus to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Advertise and change the setting to “Don’t sell my personal information”
- Go to Settings > Admin & Privacy
- Select Show data to turn off Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Advertising to adjust ad tracking
Disable camera and voice recognition settings
Most smart TVs don’t come with built-in microphones and cameras, but there’s a way to turn off those features for the brands that do.
- Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Policies
- Go to Speech Recognition Services and select Off
- Some Samsung models come with retractable cameras in the center of the device. Gently push it back without touching the lens until you hear it click to turn it off
- Go to Settings > All Settings > General
- Select User Agreements
- Disable the voice information setting
- Some LG TV models come with retractable cameras. Keep the lens pressed down at all times
Other Smart TV brands may come with external cameras. Make sure they are unplugged at all times.
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