Smart TVs offer countless benefits such as Internet access, social media access, live streaming and communication with other similar devices; mobile phones and tablets.
It’s the age of ubiquitous surveillance, driven by both Internet firms and governments. The Internet of Things is full of eavesdroppers who want to “listen”. Newer cars contain computers that record speed, steering wheel position, pedal pressure, even tyre pressure and third party companies such as insurance companies want to listen. And, of course, your cell phone records your precise location at all times. Add security cameras and recorders, drones and other surveillance airplanes and we’re being watched, tracked, measured and listened to almost all the time.
Many devices have similar speech features that are always listening. Our smartphones and computers listen to us when we are making audio and video calls. But the microphones are ever-present and there are ways a hacker, government or organisation can turn those microphones on without our knowledge.
Cyber espionage is not the only threat to Smart TVs, since Smart TVs have an IP address, there may come a day when cyber criminals use malware to form a TV-based botnet and exploit users’ networks. Hackers have found a platform outside of traditional computers through which to abuse users’ data and devices. By creating a network that consists of unprotected home devices and appliances, cybercriminals will be able to hack these devices with ease in the future using complex malware.
Not even large name vendors such as Samsung and LG are fully protected against complex malware. Mid last year saw the discovery of a potential flaw in Smart TVs, which affects various smart TVs and allows a would-be hacker to possibly exploit users’ entire systems. Called the “Red Button Attack” (so named because of the red button on a TV remote that accesses web content.)
Cyber espionage attacks will continue to increase in frequency and data privacy will continue to be a hot topic as governments and businesses continue to struggle with what is fair and authorised access to inconsistently defined “personal information.” The good news is that the cyber security landscape is already adjusting to the new demands of this widespread network and although the potential to exploit Smart TVs is possible, it is yet to be a severe problem.