Smart TV risks

Smart TVs may make your other devices more vulnerable

Smart TVs—they make our lives easier these days.

We are using our voices to browse the Web and using our TVs to video chat with friends while watching our favorite shows.

[WEB EXTRAS: Turn off smart interactivity feature | Vizo Privacy Policy ]

But all this convenience doesn’t come without a cost.

Experts told News 6 the problem is-- security features haven’t caught up yet. 

“I own a TV and use it as TV only,” says Gaelan Adams, who is an information security specialist.

Adams said smart TVs are minicomputers, and are vulnerable because they use cellphone operating systems.

“Many TVs are running this Android operation system and they are running a much older version of it, so that means it doesn’t have the latest security,” said Adams.

But, he said, it is not the TV itself the hackers want. The thieves are trying to gain access to valuable information stored on other devices you own.

“When they hack your TV, now they can hack your tablet, desktop or your laptop because they are all on the same wireless network,” said Adams.

It’s not just about stealing your personal information; they are also checking your smart TV’s camera to see when no one is home.

“When they know you’re not home, they can call a local person to come steal stuff,” said Adams.

Osmond Ebanks loves his smart TV, but said thinking about what can happen is nerve-wracking.

“It’s like breaking into your house. It’s an invasion. You got your bank, and your private thoughts, and people can just walk in or break in, that’s a little too much, “ Ebanks said.

But the good news is, there are ways to protect yourself. You can disconnect your TV from the internet or try using media streaming devices, like Roku.

“These are devices that can connect to your TV and still get the same functionality out of it, but it doesn’t give the same vulnerabilities that your smart TV does,” said Adams.

But if you want to use the smart features on your TV, getting a wireless router with a built in firewall will help secure your network.

“It looks for things that don’t look correct and stops them,” said Adams. “It acts like a giant wall, it says, ‘No, this is not allowed.”

It’s also important to note—some smart TV models, especially those from Vizio, have a setting called a “smart interactivity feature.” That means, the TV, by default, monitors your viewing behavior and sends it to third parties.

Vizio said it’s to enhance your experience with your TV. You can easily shut that feature off by going to the Settings menu.