Find out if your smart TV was hacked in three easy steps
Imagine buying a shield – only to have someone rip it out of your hands and hit you with it. Metaphorically speaking, it can happen when you don’t secure smart home devices.
Take your security devices, for example. If you don’t protect them with strong passwords, the technology you bought to protect yourself could be putting you at risk. Tap or click here for four ways to keep hackers away from your smart home security cameras.
Bottom line: Hackers can break into anything in your smart home. That’s why you must secure your internet-connected devices – including your smart TV. If you’ve been wondering, “Can someone see me through my smart TV?” the answer may be yes.
How hackers get into your smart TV
You might not even realize there’s a camera on your smart TV. But it probably is! They are more common than ever before.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering, “Will all smart TVs have cameras in 2022?” Not everyone of them have cameras. It depends on the brand and model you buy.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you can make video calls on your TV, you probably have a camera. Tap or click here for five things you didn’t know your smart TV could do.
To see the camera, search the edges of the TV screen. Look closely enough and you should be able to find the hidden lens.
Sure, the smart TV camera is useful. But it is also risky.
Let’s say you connected your smart TV to your home network. If a hacker breaches your home network, everything connected to your system is at risk. You guessed it: That includes your TV.
A motivated hacker can record you through your smart TV. Imagine what your private moments could be worth in the wrong hands. If you don’t protect your network, you could be inviting creeps, from perverts to government-sanctioned stalkers.
Yep, it happened. According to Forbes, the CIA used malware to break into and eavesdrop on people through their Samsung smart TVs in 2014.
RELATED: How to lock Wi-Fi and protect your home
Maybe you’ve been alone in the house and felt like you weren’t really alone. Maybe you were wondering, “Can someone see me through my smart TV?” Without further ado, here are three ways to determine if your smart TV was hacked.
1. Want to find out if your smart TV was hacked? Look for strange setting changes
Hackers will not announce their presence. They want to bide their time and collect private data right under your nose. To sniff them out, check your settings and see if anything has changed.
There are subtle red flags to look for, such as:
- The camera or microphone icon appears: This may be a sign that someone else is using your device. However, it is also possible that you press the microphone button on the remote control by accident.
- Random pop-ups appear on the screen: Malware can be the source behind strange pop-ups, although it’s possible that Roku is trying to show you ads.
- Sudden volume changes: Maybe the volume is much lower than you wanted, right after you turned it up. This could mean that hackers are fiddling with your settings and turning down the volume so you don’t hear any of your smart TV’s sound effects.
2. You find unknown video files in your folders
Many smart TVs have internal storage. It all depends on the make and model, but you can poke around the settings section to find your device’s preferences and storage folders. Dig around enough and you might find weird webcam video files you didn’t record or save on your own.
Once you find these, it’s time to change your Wi-Fi and router passwords. Tap or click here for some ways to create strong passwords that are hard to crack. While you’re at it, double-check your app usage, too.
3. Check your app usage to find out if your smart TV was hacked
So you suspect someone is watching you through your smart TV. But you want to be sure you’re dealing with a smart TV hack before you start googling phrases like “How to stop your smart TV from spying on you” or “Can someone see me through your smart- My TV?”
A quick way to find out is to open the settings and check the app usage of the smart TV. In the app section of your smart TV, you can see how much time you spend on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Apple TV and more. This can help find strange app activity.
Now that you’re reviewing your app usage, try to find any strange activity. Maybe an app has been used recently, but you don’t remember using it. Unauthorized app use or activity indicates that hackers have entered your smart TV. Just be sure to double check with everyone else living in your home as well.
BONUS: To find out if your smart TV was hacked, check your credit card transactions
Most hackers have one thing on their mind: Money. Breaking into your smart TV gives hackers some opportunities to make money. They can use this invasion to take over the rest of your system.
Once they find your passwords, they have the keys to the kingdom. They can find your financial information and start buying things with your credit cards.
So check with both your bank and your internet provider. If you find any unauthorized downloads, it is another sign that your smart TV was hacked. If cybercriminals stole your financial data, be sure to freeze your credit so they can’t open accounts in your name.
How to protect your smart TV from hackers
Now that you know you’re dealing with a smart TV hack, there’s a silver lining: You know what you’re dealing with. Use these tips to prevent someone from connecting to your smart TV:
- Choose a wired connection: It is easy for criminals to hijack a wireless connection. You may want to switch to wired for more protection.
- Update your smart TV’s software: Regular system updates are not negotiable. Cyber security experts patch old bugs in every update. Downloading them helps you stay safe.
- Protect your router: Change these router settings to keep hackers out of your home.
- Disconnect your smart TV’s Wi-Fi when you’re not using it: This may be inconvenient, but it’s worth the extra 30 seconds it takes to turn on Wi-Fi the next time you watch.
- Use strong passwords: Make sure you don’t use the 20 worst passwords.
While you’re at it, just download reputable TV apps like those from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and more. We know you might want to save money and take a chance on a free service – but there are too many shadows hiding malware.
Luckily, we did the research for you. We found a few free apps that are 100% legit and won’t cause any problems with your smart TV. Tap or click here for 15 safe streaming services you can use to watch free movies online.