How to keep your Smart TV safe

There is a lot of convenience and fun in having a Smart TV in your home. You can connect to web browsers, stream all your favorite shows using apps like Netflix and Hulu, and even play video games while chatting with friends online.

But with all that fun comes the risk factors of hackers and malware trying to get into your device just like they could with a smartphone or computer.

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Can my Smart TV be hacked?

The short answer is yes. But before you worry too much, it’s important to know that smart TVs are much less likely to be hacked than your other smart devices. Many smart TVs don’t have camera or microphone capabilities, so hackers aren’t usually as keen on breaking into these devices as they wouldn’t be able to spy on your home. But those hackers who might want to install malware on your TV are a different story.

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Is my Smart TV threatened by malware?

Any smart device can be infected with malware, but again, smart TVs are not usually the devices that experience these inconveniences. Although it has happened to both Samsung and Apple TVs in the past, these cases are extremely rare and here’s why:

It is very difficult to create a virus that works on a Smart TV

Operating systems on a Smart TV are very different from a phone or computer. Smart TVs are unable to write any code on the chip systems they are designed on, meaning a malware author would have to write entirely new code for that TV for the malware to take over. In short, it’s a long and difficult process that most malware authors didn’t take the time to complete.

Smart TVs have digital signatures

Malware doesn’t use digital signatures, but Smart TVs do use them every time their firmware is updated. So if malware appeared on your Smart TV, the device would ignore it and it couldn’t do anything harmful. And the next time your TV’s firmware is updated, a new code will come with the update and the malware will be completely removed.

Malware would not access your Smart TV much

If your Smart TV has a camera and microphone capability, there is likely a higher risk of malware spying on you. But if it isn’t, then the malware really can’t access much other than the TV’s settings and configuration files, which most malware authors aren’t very interested in anyway.

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Steps to protect your Smart TV

Although the chances of your Smart TV getting hacked or infected with malware are relatively low, you still need to take steps for extra protection to be on the safe side:

Disable advertising and tracking on your Smart TV

Disabling advertising and tracking on your Smart TV will largely prevent your TV from collecting data about you and the content you watch. How to disable this feature on Samsung, LG and Vizio TVs:

Samsung

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms of Service and Privacy > Privacy Options
  • Select View information services to turn off Automatic Content Recognition (ACR).
  • Select Speech Recognition Services to customize speech data collection

LG

  • Go to Settings > Additional Settings > General
  • Select Live Plus to disable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR).
  • Select Advertising and change the setting to “Do not sell my personal information”.
  • Read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, then opt out of Live Plus displaying information, language information, interest-based and cross-device advertising, and automatic content detection

Vizio

  • Go to Settings > Management & Privacy
  • Select Show data to turn off Automatic Content Recognition (ACR).
  • Select Advertising to customize ad tracking

Disable camera and voice recognition settings

Most smart TVs don’t come with built-in microphones and cameras, but there is a way to disable these features for the brands that do.

Samsung

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms and Policies
  • Go to Speech Recognition Services and select Off
  • Some Samsung models are equipped with pop-up cameras in the center of the device. Gently slide it back without touching the lens until you hear a click to turn it off

LG

  • Go to Settings > All Settings > General
  • Select User Agreements
  • Disable the Language information setting
  • Some LG TV models are equipped with pop-up cameras. Always keep the lens pressed down

Other smart TV brands may come with external cameras. Make sure they are always unplugged.

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