FBI Cybersecurity Advice for Smart TV Buyers

FBI Cybersecurity Advice for Smart TV Buyers

November 10, 2019

Savvy shoppers know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday present some of the best deals of the year on pricy electronics like TVs. Overall, the National Retail Federation expects Americans will spend about $730 billion this holiday season.

But new owners of internet-connected smart TVs might not be as good at spotting hackers as they are at spotting deals. As manufacturers continue to produce more and more devices capable of connecting to the internet, you may welcome their convenience and the options they provide. However, you may not have considered their potential risks. The FBI’s Portland, Oregon, field office shared some tips recently for anyone who needs to secure a smart TV.

Some models of smart TVs include built-in cameras. They can be used for video chatting with friends and family, and some can let the TV recognize who is watching and suggest programming based on their past preferences.

But hackers may be able to access those TVs through the internet, allowing them to spy through the camera and microphone, or change channels, adjust the volume and play “inappropriate videos,” the FBI warned.

Hackers could even potentially use an unsecured TV as a backdoor to a router, potentially allowing them to access a computer or other device connected to the Wi-Fi, according to the FBI.

What are some ways a smart tv can be hacked?

Webcam hacking is nothing new, but it has been getting more mainstream attention. Cassidy Wolf, a Miss Teen USA contestant, was targeted by hackers for blackmail after they used remote administration software to take photos of her in her bedroom, through her own computer. That problem could now be headed to your living room TV.

The threat isn’t just being seen in your unmentionables. A hacker could just as easily use the webcam on your television to find out whether you have anything worth stealing in your home or when you are most likely to be gone for long periods. Other instances have involved hackers adjusting the volume remotely, rapidly cycling through channels, opening disturbing or explicit content, and accessing the connected smart TV’s built-in browser to download malicious code.

The tracking problem

Even if you don’t have a webcam on your television, it’s important to understand that the company providing you with content could likely be tracking your browsing history and what you are watching. Much of that tracking is, ostensibly, in the name of serving you with advertising more attuned to your interests, but you should consider whether you’re comfortable with that practice.

Here’s what the FBI recommends to keep hackers out of smart TVs:

– Disconnect it from your home network. But if you want access to some of the perks of smart technology, consider avoiding TVs with built-in webcams.

– Because each smart TV is different, owners should search for the exact model number online and words like “microphone,” “camera” and “privacy” to learn how to control those features.

– Don’t leave security settings on the default option and chance passwords if possible. It’s also a good idea to check how to turn off microphones, cameras and personal data collection ahead of making a purchase, and considering a different model if they can’t be turned off.

– A piece of black tape can help when a camera can’t be turned off.

– Check whether the manufacturer can and whether it does update the device with security patches.

– Also check the privacy policy for the manufacturer and any streaming services, including what data they collect, how they store it and what they do with it.

Outdated software

Keep in mind, smart TV manufacturers try their best to keep all software up to date, but in the rush to get new devices to market, security may be an afterthought. As technology changes rapidly, your 3-year-old smart TV may start looking ancient soon. This is where a secure router can play an important role, since it is essentially the entry point of the internet into your home, and the router can help provide some protection at that entry point.

Want to protect yourself against a cyber security threat? Contact Louis Mamo & Company today for a freee consultation.


Sources: Fox Business and Norton Security

Studies say we not only lose hundreds of millions of dollars during the daylight saving time transition, but it impacts our health and more. 
And while many people enjoyed the extra hour for sleeping or getting an early start of the day, many also dread when we’ll all turn our clocks forward again in the spring and lose an hour. More people have been calling for an end to the practice of daylight saving time, and numerous studies have found links between the time change and negative consequences.
Researchers have linked daylight saving to increased risk of heart problems like strokes, heart attacks and atrial fibrillation. Women undergoing in vitro fertilization and had a prior pregnancy loss experienced higher rates of miscarriage during daylight saving time.
The start of daylight saving time sees a measurable increase in criminal sentence lengths, while the end coincides with a decrease in assaults, studies found. Teens lose sleep on school nights after springing forward. More people are diagnosed with depression after falling back. And researchers have even found increased “cyberloafing” among office workers after the start of daylight savings time.
“In the spring, the day after we move into daylight saving time, there are more car accidents, greater stock market losses, more workplace injury, reduced test scores and higher suicide rates,” Greg Ridgeway, who co-authored a 2017 study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science on daylight saving’s effects on sleep, said in a press release.
Health effects from daylight saving time are caused by a mismatch between the body’s internal clock and the external clock of work, school and the sun, circadian biologists told The Associated Press. Till Roenneberg, a circadian rhythm specialist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Germany, told the AP that a mismatch of just one hour daily is enough to cause negative effects related to metabolism, blood pressure and hormones.
In 2016 the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that the switch back to standard time is associated with a drop in spending between 2.2% and 4.9%, depending on where you live.
Chmura Economics & Analytics looked at the total economic loss caused by daylight saving time via increased heart attacks, workplace injuries and cyberloafing. They estimated a total cost of more than $433 million across the U.S. in 2016.
Daylight saving time runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. The U.S. government first enacted daylight saving time in 1918 as a way to conserve coal during World War I. The practice became law in 1966 with the federal Uniform Time Act.
Hawaii and most of Arizona are the only two states that don’t observe daylight saving time. But at least 18 states have considered bills in the past few years to move permanently to either to standard time or daylight saving time.
> How Can Small Businesses Take Advantage of the Economic Impact of Daylight Saving Time? <
If small businesses can’t depend on unexpected daylight hours to stimulate sales, are there any benefits they can extract from the practice? Is there any economic impact of daylight saving time on small businesses? 
Some businesses actually plan their inventory rollouts around the change in time, such as online custom bedding site Flaneur.
“Based on previous years’ experiences, we launched the Introducing Flaneur collection that includes red, purple, and warm earthy tones because of consumers’ interest in creating a bed set that either brightens their room during the dark winter days or provides a cozy refuge,” says the company’s spokesperson.
Companies also recognize that the end of DST serves as a reminder to consumers that the holiday season, the cold, winter, and so on, are right around the corner.
“When the clocks roll back in the fall, it serves as a cue for people that it’s nearly winter and the cold will be coming soon. This helps remind them about the best way to stay warm while enjoying the outdoor scenery—hot tubs,” says Jay Labelle, the owner of hot tub cover company The Cover Guy. “It signals to my client base to check if their hot tub is in good condition, as well as their covers. My sales rise this time of year, and anything that helps my customers remember the cold is coming is the reason for it.”
If you have a seasonal business that does its best sales in the cold months, the end of DST is probably the best time to gear up for your cold weather run.
Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, JPMorgan Chase Institute, Chmura Economics & Analytics, Fundera and Money.com