October 11, 2017
PRIVACY AND FREEDOM
As the world becomes more connected, so do our devices. Cell phones, music players, book readers and now even televisions have the power to connect you to the net in seconds. But how safe is that connection?
You'd be hard-pressed nowadays to find a television in a big-box store that is not considered a Smart TV or, in other words, one that is Internet-enabled. Such electronics can stream movies and shows from the Internet, let users tap into apps like Skype or even check email, do online shopping or read the news on a big screen, right from the comfort of their couch. But that convenience may come at a cost, according to Ars Technica.
To test the security of Smart TVs, a group of tech whizzes used a transmitter to tap into a TV signal; the breach was made possible by two known bugs associated with the browser that run in the background of the televisions. Once the entry was made, the hackers uploaded commands, demonstrating the ease with which someone can gain access to a Smart TV.
Though the Ars Tehnica hack was an experiment, had the signal been intercepted by someone with a malicious intent, the results could have been severe. If hackers gain access to your Smart TV, they could use the microphone or video-camera functions to spy on you or could obtain sensitive information like credit card numbers or financial documents from your Internet history. To protect yourself on your desktop or laptop computers, or even on your smart phone, you may use the best private email, along with firewalls and anti-virus software — but how many of us consider those precautions for our televisions?
The hacker need not be in physical contact with a Smart TV to hack into it — all he or she needs is to be within range of the signal — which can lead to more opportunities for hackers, with fewer consequences. And the impact could be wide-ranging; for instance, if someone successfully hacks into a signal used by a television station, it could potentially broadcast malicious commands to countless viewers tuning into a particular channel.
Smart TVs are certainly here to stay — and as such, we should take the proper steps to protect ourselves.
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