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Cyber experts caution about smart TV vulnerability

AUGUSTA (WFXG) – Are you thinking about Black Friday shopping this week? Even if you’re not going to the stores, there’s a new cyber threat to anyone looking to buy during the holidays.

“You have to look at a smart TV the same. It’s a computer,” said Zach Hodges, the COO and vice president for Cyber Security Solutions. “It’s like your cell phone, your laptop, your tablet. It’s got that same computing power, and when it’s left in an unsecured environment, it’s easy to breach.”

Cyber experts like Hodges will tell you: your home environment can be exposed in several ways. The first is through your webcam. A new security bug in TCL televisions has made their smart brands vulnerable.

“There was basically a wide-open back end,” said Hodges. “All you needed was the IP address to hack into this device. But the scary part is this year that there’s playbooks online for cyber criminals to see step by step how to hack into those devices.”

Selecting a home network for your devices should work fine, but Zach says it’s not as easy as a simple plug and play. In other words, don’t rely on the default settings.

“If you just get a TV right out of the box, plug it in and put in your WiFi password, there probably are some privacy, webcam or microphone settings that you should have adjusted.”

Remember: if the hackers get into your system, they can get access to any other devices on your network including files with passwords, credit cards or other billing information.

So, what can you do? Do you simply avoid the TV, even if it’s a good deal?

“That’s not to say that each one’s a risk or each one’s a concern, but you should definitely do your research. Google the brands, Google the model numbers that you’re looking at purchasing these holidays.”

Also, be sure you run your anti-virus programs often as well, and download the patches to keep your system up to date. If you’re worried about someone hacking into your webcam, you can always cover the camera with electrical tape.

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