If you’re reading this article, you must have already noticed the camera on your smart TV or smart TVs you’ve come across and wondered why smart TVs have cameras.
We’ve been told before to cover our laptop’s camera, especially when it’s not in use, to protect our privacy because hackers have been known to spy on people via webcams.
Does that mean cameras on smart TVs are also a threat, and why do smart TVs even have cameras in the first place?
Smart TVs have cameras for facial recognition or video chats. Companies also collect user data by studying their viewing behaviors and habits when using smart TVs using automatic content recognition (ACR) technology. That way, companies can show specific ads or recommendations to consumers.
Let’s explore what smart TVs and their cameras are all about and why you should be concerned about them. We will also share some tips on protecting your privacy while using your smart TV at home.
The Rise of Smart TVs
73% of people in the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Germany have a smart TV.
In Asia, more households now have smart TVs as well.
Smart TVs are becoming more popular nowadays, thanks to their wide-screen display, beautiful colors, excellent sound system, and ability to access the internet and connect with smartphones.
Smart TVs also come with a camera for facial recognition. Samsung smart TVs, for example, can recognize the viewer’s face and grant them access to its contents.
While facial recognition is convenient and quick, some people prefer to access their smart TV account the conventional way.
And accessing your account the conventional way can be a good thing, especially when smart device camera hacking is on the rise.
79% of Americans are aware of webcam hacking and understand their privacy could be compromised. 59% of Americans said they cover their webcam.
Should You Cover Your Smart TV Camera?
It will be wise for consumers to cover their smart TV cameras.
You should cover your smart TV camera if it doesn’t serve you any purpose or whenever you’re not using it. By covering the camera of your smart TV, you protect your privacy from hackers.
Privacy Concerns Related to Third-Parties
You also want to protect your privacy from marketers who will bombard you with advertisements.
Companies cannot spy on you via the camera, though. They can only collect your data when you use the smart TV technology known as automatic content recognition (ACR) that collects your information whenever you use your smart TV.
After collecting your data about your viewing habits, TV manufacturers will sell your viewing habits information to third-party sellers.
Your TV manufacturer can only collect data about your viewing habits when you use the ACR feature. Even if you switch off the ACR, your TV manufacturer may have other data they could sell to third parties, so you’ll want to check your smart TV’s user agreement for more information.
Privacy Concerns Related to Hackers
Smart TVs have cameras that can also listen to your conversation. Scary enough, but many people are unaware of this cyber threat. It’s not your TV company who’s spying on you but hackers.
Hackers can hack your smart TV and access the camera or microphone without you realizing it. By hacking your smart TV, hackers can spy on you. Smart TV hacking is a concerning problem; even the Oregon FBI has warned people about it.
How To Prevent Your Smart TV From Spying on You
It’s essential to understand how smart TVs work to protect your privacy better. It may take some learning curves, but it’s worth going the extra mile to keep you and your family safe.
I’ve listed down some essential tips to help you prevent hackers from attacking your smart TV.
Update Your Security Settings
Don’t use the same security settings that came with the smart TV. Make sure you change the default security settings, including the login credentials. You want to use complex passwords to secure your privacy.
How to know if your password is strong? First, you must avoid generic and obvious passwords, such as 123456, smart TV, your name, abc123, or any password that hackers can easily guess. To create an uncrackable password, you want to keep the following in mind:
- Create a long password. The longer the password, the better. You must avoid short passwords that are fewer than 15 characters.
- Use random characters. You don’t want to use predictable passwords. Ditch passwords that contain your name or date of birth.
- Mix up your characters. You should combine letters (upper-case and lower-case) and numbers and add some symbols as well. Arrange the letters, numbers, and symbols randomly to make the password more difficult to crack.
You’re advised to change your passwords from time to time, so keeping up with the password changes can be stressful.
You may want to consider using a password manager if you find it challenging to cope with long, complex passwords. If you’re not ready to commit to a password manager, you can always try it for free first — LastPass and NordPass are some of the best ones on the market today.
Cover Your Smart TV Camera
If you’re not using your smart TV camera, cover it. That way, you can protect yourself from hackers who will try to spy on you. You can make this cover yourself using paper and tape or buy one from your local bookstore.
Read Your User Agreement
If you’re using a Samsung smart TV to watch Netflix, you want to check both Samsung and Netflix’s user agreement to check what data they gather and what they do with it.
It will be best to check on this before buying the TV or subscribing to certain services to ensure you know what you’re signing up for and if you’re okay with it.
Watch Out for Software Updates
Your TV manufacturer may perform software updates from time to time to give you the latest features and improvements, and when this happens, the changes you have made to your security settings may change.
You want to stay alert about the updates and determine which updates have security patches. You’ll want to adjust your settings again whenever an update occurs.
Invest in an Antivirus
While you can’t use antivirus on your smart TV, you can protect all other devices connected to the TV. A hacker can hack your smart TV and spy on you via the camera and microphone, and they can even hack your smartphone or computer that connects to the TV.
If a hacker manages to access your gadgets, they can steal whatever information on them.
That said, you want to invest in a reliable antivirus that can protect your smart devices from cybercriminals. Some of the best antivirus software today are Bitdefender and Norton.
For family-friendly antivirus, Norton 360 Deluxe is an excellent choice.
why do smart tvs have cameras: Final Thoughts
Smart TVs have cameras designed for facial recognition and video chats. Automatic content recognition (ACR) technology enables TV manufacturers to gather user behavioral data to tailor targeted advertisements and recommendations.
While you can switch off the ACR feature to prevent your TV manufacturer from gathering your data via the camera, they may be able to collect other primary data.
Cover your smart TV camera to prevent hackers from spying on you. Adjust your TV’s default security settings from time to time, especially after every software update. It’ll be helpful to have a password manager managing complex, secure passwords.