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 this fun comes the risk factors of hackers and malware trying to invade your device, just as they would 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 is important to know that the chances of smart TVs being hacked are much lower than the chances of your other smart devices being exposed. Many smart TVs don’t come with camera or microphone features, so hackers usually don’t bother trying to gain access to these devices because they won’t be able to spy on your home. But those hackers who might want to install malware on your TV are a different story.
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Is my smart TV at risk of malware?
Any smart device can get infected with malware, but then again, smart TVs are not usually the ones to suffer from this annoyance. While this has happened in the past with both Samsung devices and Apple TV, these cases are extremely rare, and here’s why:
It is very difficult to make 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 unable to write any kind of code on the chipset systems they are designed on, which means that the malware writer must write entirely new code for that TV to allow the malware to take hold. In short, it’s a long, difficult process that most malware writers don’t take the time to implement.
Smart TVs contain digital signatures
The malware does not use any digital signatures, but smart TVs do use them every time their firmware is updated. So, if malware appears on your smart TV, the device will ignore it and not be able to do anything malicious. And the next time your TV firmware is updated again, a new code will come with the update and completely remove the malware.
Malware won’t reach much on your smart TV
If your smart TV has a camera and microphone feature, you are probably more at risk of spying on you with malware. But if it doesn’t, there isn’t much for malware to access other than TV settings and configuration files, which most malware writers don’t care about anyway.
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Steps to keep your smart TV safe
Although the chances of your smart TV being hacked or infected with malware are relatively low, there are still steps you should take for additional protection just to be safe:
Disable ads and tracking on your smart TV
Disabling ads and tracking on your Smart TV will mostly restrict your TV from collecting data about you and the content you watch. Here’s how to disable this feature on Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs:
- Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Privacy > Privacy Options
- Select View Information Services to disable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Voice Recognition Services to set the collection of voice data
- Go to Settings > Additional Settings > General
- Select Live Plus to disable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Ads and change the setting to “Don’t sell my personal information”
- Go to Settings > Administrator & Privacy
- Select Display Data to turn off Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)
- Select Ad to set ad tracking
Disable the voice recognition and camera settings
Most smart TVs don’t come with built-in microphones and cameras, but there is a way to turn those features off for brands that work.
- Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Policies
- Go to Voice Recognition Services and select Stop
- Some Samsung models come with retractable cameras in the middle of the device. Gently push it back without touching the lens until it clicks to turn it off
- Go to Settings > All Settings > General
- Select User Agreements
- Disable the audio 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 it is unplugged at all times.
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