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Federal Bureau of Investigation issues warning on smart TV security risks

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Hackers could use smart TVs to break into your home

U.S. citizens have been warned that hackers could be watching them in their homes through their smart TVs. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best days to scoop up some new technology or clothes for the low so you already know that items like smartphones and smart TVs are in high demand.

A lot of the smart TVs being sold also have microphone and camera support, so if a hacker were somehow able to access your TV, they would be able to activate the TV's microphone and camera to listen in and watch you.

The Oregon branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation posted on their website to warn the public that the devices' built-in cameras and microphones could be used by cyber criminals to listen to or watch them go about their business.

Nevertheless, they warned, 'it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router'. Not only that, many smart TVs come with a camera and a microphone.

In the worst-case scenarios, an attacker could take control of your smart TV and even its microphone or camera to spy on you. But it also says it could be a "gateway for hackers to come into your home".

The bureau noted that U.S. citizens can report cyber-fraud to either their local FBI office, or online via the Internet Crime Complaint Centre. Since recently purchased TVs are smart TVs, they are created to be connected to the internet for a means of accessing streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. To start, the agency suggests doing a basic search on your TV model and its features, using words like "microphone", "camera" and privacy.

Smart TV users were advised to familiarize themselves with security settings and change network passwords. If you can't turn them off, consider whether you are willing to take the risk of buying that model or using that service.

The smart TV category itself has become a lot more popular in the last few years, not only because more users want to connect to the Internet and benefit from services like Skype and Netflix, but also thanks to more manufacturers releasing such devices and prices overall going down. If possible, turn the camera off or cover it with black tape.

The FBI's Portland field office recently posted a blog on its website about the security threat that smart TVs pose, particular as it is an element of their design manufacturers may not pay as much attention to, according to the organisation.

Check the manufacturer's ability to update your device with security patches. Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.

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