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Smart device safety: How to protect your Smart TV
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Today, when the Internet is widespread throughout the world, you can find at least one smart device in almost every household. A fitness tracker, Smart TV devices, a Smart house—these are just some examples of modern IoT devices (The Internet of Things). Nowadays, nobody would be surprised by wireless headphones or sneakers that track physical activity.
However, with the development of such technologies, cybercriminals are gaining space to experiment, and IoT device owners appear to be at risk. While the typical user has surely heard something about Internet safety, they may never guess that their Smart TV device could be compromised. Every smart device has a built-in operating system, which is usually only set and configured by the manufacturer. So, in our homes, IP cameras with a standard default login and a password like admin-admin or 12345-12345 are appearing. Even an amateur hacker can easily gain access to these devices, and it's good if it’s just a harmless jokester and not an authentic cybercriminal.
So, threats to IoT devices are entirely real. You can find more information about them in our research. But we are devoting today's issue to Smart TV devices—one of the most attractive targets to hack into today. Such devices are equipped with microphones, video cameras and network interfaces, so they attract the interest of intruders. A device can be infected by trojans or malware, for example, when user-modified firmware is installed or applications are being downloaded from pirate sites and even from official software stores. However, infection does not always occur due to careless user actions: criminals also exploit Smart TV vulnerabilities that can only be closed by the manufacturer.
From the devices they hack, cybercriminals can get personal data that’s been entered in any of a Smart TV’s applications. They can steal logins, passwords, phone numbers, email addresses, bank card details and other confidential information. Attackers can even fully spy on a user with the help of hidden spyware: at the very least, they can listen in on and watch users. Therefore, taping over your webcam is not a bad idea.
For an inexperienced user, it is difficult to determine whether a Smart TV device is compromised. This can only be done by taking circumstantial evidence into account: a TV set changes settings by itself, strange pop-up notifications appear or an Internet connection is slow. But each of these signs can also appear during an ordinary failure that is not related to a hacking, and such behaviour is not a guaranteed reason to suspect outside interference.
If you suspect that it was a hacking, you should perform standard cybersecurity procedures:
- change the password for your device accounts;
- if you can install an anti-virus on your device, you need to conduct a full scan for malware;
- upgrade the device firmware;
- reset the settings to the default factory settings.
Only advanced users should upgrade the firmware and perform a reset, and only if the previous steps did not help. In this case, it is advisable to back up all important data first.
The Anti-virus Times recommends
- Monitor suspicious activity on your smart device. Take note of any changes—they can occur as a result of a hacking or poor-quality device operation.
- Use only trusted applications from official app catalogues. You should keep in mind that under the guise of useful software, hackers spread fake software in official catalogues.
- Prevent potential espionage attempts by installing an anti-virus for Smart TV devices (Dr.Web Security Space for Android supports Smart TVs running Android TV).
- Use strong passwords so you can make it as difficult as possible for criminals to crack them.
- Do not allow any unauthorised connection to your devices. Be sure to verify all users before giving them access to your device. Social engineering is still one of the main tools used by cybercriminals.
- Do not rely on "modified" firmware that’s distributed on pirate sites and amateur forums. All updates for IoT devices are best downloaded from official developers' sites.