Black Friday smart TV buyers should take this FBI cybersecurity advice

Savvy shoppers know that Black Friday presents some of the best deals of the year on pricy electronics like TVs. Overall, the National Retail Federation expects Americans will spend about $730 billion this holiday season.

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But new owners of internet-connected smart TVs might not be as good at spotting hackers as they are at spotting deals. The FBI’s Portland, Oregon, field office shared some tips this week for anyone who needs to secure a smart TV.

Some models of smart TVs include built-in cameras. They can be used for video chatting with friends and family, and some can let the TV recognize who is watching and suggest programming based on their past preferences.

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People shop for electronics on Black Friday at a mall in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Nov. 25, 2016. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

THE RETAILERS THAT WILL TAKE BLACK FRIDAY

But hackers may be able to access those TVs through the internet, allowing them to spy through the camera and microphone, or change channels, adjust the volume and play “inappropriate videos,” the FBI warned.

Hackers could even potentially use an unsecured TV as a backdoor to a router, potentially allowing them to access a computer or other device connected to the Wi-Fi, according to the FBI.

Here’s what the FBI recommends to keep hackers out of smart TVs:

  • Because each smart TV is different, owners should search for the exact model number online and words like “microphone,” “camera” and “privacy” to learn how to control those features.
  • Don’t leave security settings on the default option and chance passwords if possible. It’s also a good idea to check how to turn off microphones, cameras and personal data collection ahead of making a purchase, and considering a different model if they can’t be turned off.
  • A piece of black tape can help when a camera can’t be turned off.
  • Check whether the manufacturer can and whether it does update the device with security patches.
  • Also check the privacy policy for the manufacturer and any streaming services, including what data they collect, how they store it and what they do with it.

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