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FBI Warning That Hackers Can Use Smart TVs To Spy On You Prompts Call For Federal Probe

The FBI is warning consumers of potential dangers involving smart TVs.
The FBI is warning consumers of potential dangers involving smart TVs. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Your smart TV may “see you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re awake,” according to officials calling for a federal probe into security and data protection of one of the holiday season’s most popular gifts.

The FBI issued a warning that smart TVs, which can connect to the internet and collect data on users, may present a potential security threat since they’re often equipped with features such as microphones and cameras.

According to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, TV manufacturers, app developers, and hackers can gain access to critical data that smart TVs collect on users, risking the exposure of their private information.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has also recognized the risk of unsecured devices, such as smart TVs, and issued a draft of recommended features for the industry to implement to improve their security, with the public comment period for these recommendations recently concluding.

In response, Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into the data protection and security of smart TVs—by TV manufacturers and software application developers—and develop recommendations for the production of secure smart TVs.

“Smart TVs are always one of the hottest items on our holiday shopping lists, but rather than adding convenience and security to our homes, these devices roll out the welcome mat for both manufacturers and app designers, as well as potential voyeurs, robbers, blackmailers, and other criminals. The FBI said as much last month, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology before that, so it’s time to reign this serious threat in,” Schumer said.

Smart devices can collect a large amount of consumer information and data, ranging from an individual’s viewing habits to video and audio recordings, oftentimes without the knowledge of consumers. Officials are calling on that private information to be stored in a secure setting with specific data safeguards, and that manufacturers should acknowledge individual consumer rights.

Because smart TVs are connected to the internet, scammers have the ability to hack them and gain unauthorized access. If a hacker could then potentially gain access to one device on a user’s home network, there is also a risk that they could access and compromise any devices connected to the internet on that network

“While everyone loves having guests in their homes over the holidays, they need to be invited—and the hackers and corporations on the other end of smart TVs aren’t,” Schumer added. “That’s why I’m calling on the feds to both investigate the data protection policies of these corporations and to issue updated recommendations for the production of secure smart TVs, to ensure that the private information is kept that way.”

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