Hackers attack smart TV owners who lack strong cybersecurity


COLORADO SPRINGS – Now on to a warning to any of you out there in the market for a new television this holiday season. Some of you may be buying a Smart TV for the first time and connecting it to the internet. News5 speaks to experts who say, if you’re not careful, new TV could be a pipeline for hackers.

It’s so convenient to have a new TV that works like a computer or smartphone, you can stream shows and movies, and even surf the internet, but cybersecurity experts say it might actually give hackers a way to get right into your home to sneak in.

“It’s hard to find a TV that isn’t a smart TV. Everyone wants to be connected, ”said Leslie Kershaw, board member of the National Cybersecurity Center. “So, yeah. I think it’s one of those devices that you’ll see more hacks in.”

Having experienced cybercrime investigations for the Department of Homeland Security, Kershaw now works with the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs and is concerned about the vulnerability of unprepared smart TV owners.

“It’s like a burglar looking at a house. A hacker has the same mindset. Do you want to chase the house with the fence and the alarm and the dog? Or are you going to chase the house that is fully open and you know that no one is ever home, “said Kershaw.

She says hackers come in over the WiFi connection because people don’t have strong passwords, or use apps or web browsers in a way that is unprotected, to allow hackers easy access to your data, sensitive information, and in some cases even financial information give stored on specific profiles or accounts.

“The second you bring your device home, you should update it immediately as security parameters have to be put in place that you may not have known about a vulnerability and now you do,” said Kershaw.

But you might think a hacker can’t really break into my smart TV, right? Well, that consumer who refused to be identified says that hackers took control of his TV and tried to convince him to pay them premium channels for two years.

“How they hacked AT&T to get me to Showtime is pretty amazing,” he said.

The scammer wanted him to buy hundreds of dollars in gift cards and give him the money, which the consumer fortunately refused.

“They knew exactly what my AT&T bill was, they knew my address, cell phone number, and home number,” he said.

AARP Colorado’s Mark Fetterhoff says he is concerned about people who fall victim to similar tech support scams if their smart TV is not hacked.

“You can disconnect the device from the network at any time and interrupt the connection with the fraudster,” said Fetterhoff.

Another feature that experts fear people are not used to having TVs is that some smart TVs have built-in cameras and microphones that hackers can use.

“If they have cameras, if they have eavesdropping devices, if they have other kinds of things that can be used well, they have the potential to be badly used too,” said Fetterhoff.

“So that someone can visually see and hear what’s going on in your home,” said Kershaw.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your Smart TV safe:

– Put duct tape over the camera of your smart TV, if you have it

– Turn off your TV when not in use

– Consider installing a firewall or downloading an antivirus app that you trust

– Use different and strong passwords to make things more complicated for the hackers

For the bargain hunters out there looking to buy a used smart TV, it’s a good idea to do a factory reset on this TV to make sure it has already been charged on the device.

If you have any questions or need advice:

National cybersecurity center
3650 N Nevada Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

AARP Colorado
Phone: 1-866-554-5376 (toll free)
Email: [email protected]

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