Beware: With New Technology, Your TV Could Be Watching You

Technology is amazing, but these days, it’s not without its “Big Brother” drawbacks, it seems. Imagine someone spying on you in the privacy of your own home. Unfortunately, it’s not a distant impossibility.

Samsung Smart TVs were recently discovered to have security patches that allowed hackers to watch people through the high-tech television sets by use of leave-in cameras. Although the patch has since been fixed, this breach in security begs the question: What else can be hacked into? And at this very moment, are you being watched without your consent or knowledge?

It’s pretty scary stuff we’re dealing with here.

Televisions are not the only victims of these hacks. Computers, of course, the original purveyors of the webcam, have also seen similar, disturbing breaks in security. The present-day ability to control equipment remotely leaves a gaping possibility for hackers to manipulate camera usage.

The devastating fact about these privacy break-ins is that both TV viewers and computer users alike aren’t always aware that it’s happening. In the case of the Samsung Smart TV, hackers were able to operate without showing a trace of the television’s built-in camera. In a different but related stint, cases of clickjacking were also present alongside the built-in camera hacking. The way clickjacking operates is just as worrying: By successfully hijacking a web browser, hackers can trick users into clicking on images or links, thereby gaining access to the user’s confidential information.

So how are consumers expected to protect themselves in the face of malicious tech expertise?

The old-fashioned, yet decidedly effective way involves actually taping up or obscuring your television or computer webcam or unplugging your Smart TV when not in use. But it’s probably best to hold out on purchasing a Smart TV until the controversy around the privacy issues dies down. 

As for clickjacking?

Having your computer browser consistently updated to the latest version is a measure that ought to be taken seriously. Recent versions of programs usually address weaknesses and boost the strengths of their predecessors. There is also clickjacking preventive software available to download. NoScript is a free Firefox extension that describes itself as the “most powerful anti-clickjacking protection ever available in a browser.” Comitari is another free program that can be used on Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox.

We like to enjoy all forms of technology, whether it’s browsing on computers or watching TV. But it’s important to ensure that our TVs are not watching us back. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Zainab Akande

Born and raised in New York City, Zainab is a University of Delaware alum, currently working on obtaining her M.A. in journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York. http://zainabakande.com/

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