Tv hacker

Your Smart TV Might Be At Risk, from a Tv hacker Here's What To Do

Last updated on May 11, 2021

More than 100 million smart televisions were purchased last year alone, and with the promise of innovative interfaces and high-resolution screens come the TV hackers as well.

A smart TV is any television that can connect to the internet and allows users to run apps, stream media services, access music channels, shop online as well as access on demand-services.

Can Your TV be Hacked?

In one word, yes.

Any device which connects to the internet is at risk of being accessed by a cybercriminal. What we often forget is that smart TVs are powerful computers which sometimes have more capable processors than what our smartphones had a few years back.

The power that is used to deliver excellent audio, video and streaming content which we are all accustomed to, is what makes your smart TV an ideal target for any hacker. As soon as they have access to your TV, it can be used as a launchpad to access your network and spread viruses to the rest of your devices including computers, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.

TV hackers can take advantage of open-source software in order to launch malware into your computer. There have been cases where cybercriminals have targeted vulnerable individuals with ransomware, threatening victims to pay up if they wish to regain access to their own devices.

Android devices have also faced attacks including the ADB.Miner in 2018 which attacked many smart TVs, allowing them to be used to mine cryptocurrencies.

The fact is, smart TVs are easy prey for hackers due to their security vulnerabilities. A large number of smart televisions have voice assistants built into them which can also be used to penetrate the operating system of your television.

As technology advances and our televisions gain more features, it is inevitable that the amount of data they handle makes it much more appealing to cybercriminals. These TVs can be abused by hackers using the cameras and microphones on your television to spy on you, or even as jumping-off points to crack your other devices and even home networks.

“Consumer Reports has found millions of popular smart TVs can be easily controlled by hackers. They found that the televisions made by Samsung and TCL were not secure, and the report described the flaws in the television sets. The vulnerable Roku platform used by the TCL television can be found in sets from manufacturers Hitachi, Insignia, RCA, Philips, Sharp and Hisense, in addition to Roku’s own media streaming players, including the Ultra. A Roku spokeswoman told Consumer Reports, ‘There is no security risk to our customers’ accounts or the Roku platform with use of this API [application programming interface],’ contradicting what the magazine had learned.”

Is Your TV at Risk of Being Hacked?

If you have purchased a new television in the past four years, chances are that it is a smart TV. According to a Consumer Reports listing, of the 225 TVs which are 39 inches or larger, only ten of those are not considered smart TVs. If you have a smart TV and have connected it to your router using the internet via either wifi or Ethernet, you should know that your TV is definitely at risk of being hacked.

Whilst most smart TVs that are hacked are almost always connected to the internet, there have also been reports which revealed that some smart TVs which were not connected to the internet have also been hacked.

“For the most part these gaps are present in the internet-facing side of the technology but a security consultant has discovered a way to send a malicious signal to a smart TV and compromise it.

The exploit uses the digital video broadcasting – terrestrial transmission standard built into TVs to gain access. TVs that are currently tuned to a DVB-T station reportedly contain a bug that can be exploited without a user even knowing their TV has been compromised.

The proof-of-concept hack was developed by Rafael Scheel for Oneconsult a security firm based in Switzerland. Using a low-cost transmitter Scheel was able to take control of smart TVs and what’s more is that the hack persisted through reboots and factory resets.”

Another television maker, Vizio has already had some trouble according to the Consumer Reports analysis.

“In 2017 the company was sued by both state and federal regulators because it had not asked for users’ permission before gathering their data.

Vizio had to shell out $1.5million to settle a case brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, it paid $700,000 to settle with the state of New Jersey.

The Federal Trade Commission has been clear about the fact that companies have to ask you before accessing your data. Five television manufacturers were evaluated in the new Consumer Reports study: Vizio, TCL, Sony, LG and Samsung.

The report said that all of the companies were following this Federal Trade Commission rule.”

The Solution

So, what can you do? One of the ways to reduce the risks of having your smart TV hacked is to make sure your software is updated regularly. The problem is that staying on top of these updates can be problematic and often cost the manufacturer a lot of money. These funds are being spent long after the product has been sold, which means it eats away at the profits.

In reality, unlike your computer or smartphone, your smart TV will probably only ever get one or possibly two updates in its lifetime. If you own a television over a span of 10-15 years, a couple of updates are completely insufficient.

Another thing that you can do is to make your smart TV dumb again. You can do this by stopping the internet connection so that it cannot send your data to its manufacturers or ad companies. When you get a new smart TV, everyone might like to try out the voice commands, but as time goes on, rarely anyone uses those anyway. If you still want to use your TV to watch from streaming platforms like Netflix, you can do so by getting a streaming box.

One example of this is Google Chromecast, which allows you to stream from Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and others.

By investing in an antivirus program, you will have complete security over your television as well as your other smart devices in your home. Great AV software will scan your devices and protect them from malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks in real-time.

Listed below are the three top antivirus programs we recommend.

Top Antivirus Programs to Protect your Smart TV from a TV Hacker

#1 Avast

Avast has been one of the leading antivirus brands in the world for years now. When it comes to malware attacks, Avast does well as its software uses 6-layer protection in order to detect and stop threatening programs in their tracks in just seconds.

Another highlight when it comes to this AV is that it is very simple to use, making it the perfect antivirus for beginners. To install the software, all you need to do is head over to the Avast website and find the one applicable to your device. Installation is quick and simple.

Scanning options include full scans, scans of particular folders, custom scan or the ability to run a boot-up scan. Making your life simple is the fact that you can set daily, weekly, or monthly regular scans so you don’t have to think about when the last time you checked your computer for malware was.

#2 AVG

AVG offers one of the most popular free antivirus options on the market, but if you want more than the basics, it is the AND Internet Security –Unlimited package you need. Whilst other AV software has a number of restricted licenses, AVG, as its package name suggests allows you to install its software on an unlimited amount of devices.

AVG offers a personal two-way firewall, blocking internet attacks as well as making sure that the programs running on your system don’t misuse the internet connection.

Ransomware shield is specific to AVG in that is prevents unauthorized programs from changing any of your protected files, such as your desktop, pictures or any of your documents. An anti-spam feature allows you to set spam sensitivity to low, medium or high as well as the option to whitelist certain addresses or sites so that AVG never blocks those.

For more information on AVG, check out our detailed review and get AVG antivirus here.

#3 McAfee

As one of the most respected antivirus brands on the market McAfee is definitely one of your best solutions for keeping your smart TV from being hacked. McAfee does particularly well when it comes to protecting your computer, from malware and ransomware as well as offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.

One of the downfalls is that the most important button, the scan button, isn’t available through one click. You will have to select the Scan for Viruses tab and then choose between either the full or quick scan. It should be noted that the first scan can take up to about thirty minutes, but new scans will take a lot less.

Although it might be average in terms of speed, McAfee has an excellent detection rate and you can also count on not having any false red flags raised during the scan.

There is a new feature available called the Cryptojacking Blocker. Cryptojacking occurs when you visit a particular website and your device starts to be mined for cryptocurrencies.

For more information on McAfee, check out our detailed review and get Mcafee antivirus here.

#4 Panda 

If you want to protect your smart TV from hackers, but do not want to break the budget, Panda AV might be the answer for you. The Essential package includes a firewall and some privacy tools in addition to the antivirus, while the Advanced package also has app locks, parental control as well as a useful call blocker. The Dome Complete comes with a data shield, password manager and cleanup tool, while Premium will afford you all those things as well as unlimited 24/7 technical support and an unlimited VPN.

Getting near-perfect scores in detecting unknown threats as well as block rates, this antivirus is also a great option for people who have multiple devices they want covered as well as those who want more advanced features.

There are a number of scan options available from Panda Dome which includes Full, Custom as well as a Critical Areas scan, which is more or less a quick scan. You can customize the scans to work around your schedule and minimize the impact on your operating system.

In terms of tough security and protection, Panda is consistently scored near the top when it comes to testing with its new Dome suite offering enhanced protection from dangers on the web. The best thing about Panda is that it doesn’t wait for you to instruct it to scan, but will constantly scan your computer in the background, notifying you if it finds something on your device.

For more information on Panda, check out our detailed review and get Panda Antivirus here.

Conclusion for Smart TV hacks

Keeping your devices secure is a task in itself, but many people do not know that TV hackers are out on the prowl, attempting to use your smart TV as a jumping-off point to get to your other devices. Smart TV hacks also include ransomware in which these cybercriminals demand a ransom for you to be able to use your television again.

The only way to ensure your smart TV is secure against such threats is by investing in antivirus software. Avast, AVG, and McAfee make up three of the top brands which have the best security for your computers, smart devices, and your smart TV.

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