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How to keep your Smart TV safe


Having a Smart TV in your home is very convenient and fun. You can connect to web browsers, stream all your favorite shows with 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 invade your device, just like they would a smartphone or computer.

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Can my Smart TV be hacked?

The short answer is yes. But before you get too worried, it’s important to know that the chances of smart TVs being hacked are much less likely than your other smart devices. Many smart TVs don’t come with camera or microphone features, so hackers are generally not as interested in trying to break into those devices because they wouldn’t be able to spy on your home. But hackers who might want to install malware on your TV are a different story.

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Is my Smart TV at risk of malware?

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

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

The operating systems of a Smart TV are very different from those of a telephone or a computer. Smart TVs are not capable of writing any type of code on the chip systems they were designed on, which means that a malware writer would have to write entirely new code for that TV to allow malware to take control. In short, it’s a long and difficult process that most malware writers haven’t taken the time to execute.

Smart TVs have digital signatures

Malware does not use digital signatures, but smart TVs use them every time the firmware is updated. Therefore, if malware were to appear on your Smart TV, the device would ignore it and be unable to do anything harmful. And the next time your TV’s firmware is updated again, a new code will come with the update and remove the malware completely.

Malware wouldn’t access much on your Smart TV

If your Smart TV has a camera and microphone feature, then you are probably more at risk of being spied on by malware. But if it’s not, there’s really not much for the malware to access other than TV settings and configuration files, which most malware writers aren’t very interested in anyway.

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Steps to keep your Smart TV protected

While the chances of your Smart TV being hacked or infected with malware are relatively low, there are still steps you should take for additional protection just to be on the safe side:

Disable ads and tracking on your Smart TV

Disabling ads and tracking on your Smart TV will mostly limit the collection of data about you and the content you are viewing. Here’s how to disable that feature on Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs:

samsung

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms and privacy > Privacy options
  • Select Information service display to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Voice Recognition Services to adjust voice data collection

LG

  • Go to Settings > Additional Settings > General
  • Select Live Plus to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Ads and change the setting to “Do not sell my personal information”
  • Please review the terms of use and privacy policy, and then opt out of Live Plus information, voice information, interest-based and cross-device advertising, and automatic content recognition.

Vizio

  • Go to Settings > Administration and privacy
  • Select Data Display to turn off Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Advertising to adjust 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 those features for brands that do.

samsung

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms and policies
  • Go to Voice Recognition Services and select Off
  • Some Samsung models come with retractable cameras in the middle of the device. Gently push 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 voice information settings
  • Some LG TV models come with retractable cameras. Keep the lens pushed down at all times

Other brands of Smart TVs may come with external cameras. Make sure they are unplugged at all times.

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