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How hackers get into your smart TV

Posted at 5:31 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 13:26:09-05

These days when you walk into an electronics store, the TVs for sale are likely smart TVs and if you are buying one to watch the big game you need to be smart about keeping your data safe.

We shop on our smart TVs, use them to play video games or watch our favorite shows on a streaming service. But because our televisions are connected to the internet, hackers can find a way to sneak in.

“If you are watching your smart TV and applications are changing, somebody may be into your device,” said Joseph Martinez, an Information Systems Security professor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

“Hackers come in through the wi-fi because the web browser, people don't realize you need to protect,” Martinez explained.

He said that gives hackers easy access to your financial data.

“With that credit card information being on the device or connected to an account that you can access from that device, people's banking accounts are being hacked and compromised,” he said.

If your smart TV has a built-in camera, cybercriminals can spy on you. The FBI even warned consumers about this threat over the holidays.

“The camera and the microphone can be turned on remotely via the web browser itself,” Martinez said.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from hackers?

How hackers get into your smart TV

Martinez said you can turn off your smart TV when you're not using it, add a firewall if you don't have one (most routers have built-in firewalls), download an anti-virus app and use a non-dictionary password for your wi-fi. It should have upper and lower-case letters and special characters.

“You'll be surprised how many people here in Wisconsin have Packers,” said Martinez.

To make it even harder for hackers, you can change some of the data assigned to your smart TV like your IP Address, which is like your smart TV’s telephone number. Martinez said you’ll also want to change your gateway number assigned to your TV. He said it’s a good idea to changes these digits a few times a year.

“You're making it a lot harder for these people and applications to compromise this device,” he continued.

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