Smart TVs are a new target for cybercriminals: Top tips on how to stay safe
With the usage of smart TVs skyrocketing, they are turning into a security risk. It is expected that sales of smart TVs will grow more than 20% by the end of 2019. However, like with most technology in its early days, convenience for users is still emphasized more than security. Experts warn that the next wave of cybercrime may arrive through smart TVs.
“Smart TVs have similar vulnerabilities to computers or smartphones, as they are constantly connected to the internet and come with built-in apps to surf the web, listen to music, stream or play games,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “While TV cyber attacks are not widespread yet, it’s only a matter of time when the weaknesses of smart TVs will be used to get into our personal lives and data.”
According to the NordVPN digital privacy expert, smart TVs can be used to access files on a cloud or even shop online. They store large amounts of personal and financial data that may cause a lot of problems in wrong hands. Additionally, an attacker from afar could potentially cause smart TV to download malware or turn on your webcam.
“As the potential security issues are quite serious, this year we launched a native Android TV app from NordVPN,” explains Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “The VPN app encrypts your online activities to avoid various online snoopers and keeps your private information safe. Growing numbers of app users prove that people are concerned about their safety.”
How you can stay safe
The simple principles of security that are normally applied for computers and smartphones can be used with smart TVs as well. Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, lists a few of them:
- Choose your smart TV with security in mind. When buying any tech gadget, it is important to do some homework: read up on possible vulnerabilities and check consumer reviews as well as instructions and required access permissions.
- Always update software whenever a new version is available. Security patches are usually included with each new version, as manufacturers are doing their best to patch vulnerabilities.
- Use available security measures such as VPNs. Any device that connects to the Internet should have a firewall and a VPN. Some providers, like NordVPN, have built-in smart TV apps, that will secure your TV and provide you with other benefits, such as geo-unblocking.
- Download from official stores and reputable providers. Make sure you download apps from a secure source, and that both the app and its provider are reliable. Security software can block known apps and websites that contain malware, but new ones are popping up quickly.
- Be careful with personal files and financial data. Shopping online on a big smart TV screen might sound fun, but be careful providing your credit card details and other sensitive information this way. Do not keep personal documents on a TV.
- Be educated and aware of the threats. Educate yourself and read about potential threats online. What is even more important, help your family members to understand what personal data and online privacy are. Share news about identity thefts and hacks with them, especially your kids.
- Cover the camera of your smart TV. You must have seen pictures of Mark Zuckerberg’s computer with a covered webcam. If he does that, you should as well. If not, never do anything in front of your TV that you wouldn’t want to be broadcast. Webcams are easily hacked, and so are smart TV cameras.