- The Washington Times
Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The FBI issued a warning to buyers of new smart television sets that went like this: Beware — hackers, manufacturers and app developers now have an open door into your home.

Smile, Sally, at the nice Japanese assembly line worker.

Big Brother is watching.

Big Brother is listening.

And Big Brother, apparently, comes as a too-good-to-believe TV purchase price wrapped in a red holiday ribbon. 

“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you,” the FBI wrote, “that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home. A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router.”

The big danger with smart TVs is that, unlike smartphones and laptops, these products don’t generally come equipped with facial recognition identification or two-factor authentication technology. In other words: they’re vulnerable as heck.

In other words: The bedroom might not be the best place to place that brand new 50-inch screen.

The FBI at least offers a slice of comfort, by saying that smart TV hacks are pretty uncommon.

Then again, if you’re the chosen one, that downplay is hardly a comfort.

Black tape, anyone? That seems a smart move. At least then hackers won’t be able to see — only hear.

As for an even better solution: There are television sets out there that come minus the camera and microphone. Some, even in these modern days, come without hook-ups to the Internet.

For those concerned with individual privacies, the idea of a smart TV might actually be the one with the least technological attachments.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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