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Hackers Could Be Tuning Into Your Personal Data Through Your TV

Security flaws that hit close to home

Could your TV be controlled by hackers?

A new investigation by Consumer Reports found millions of smart TV's don't do enough to protect your security.

Consumer Reports has found millions of smart TVs from major manufacturers can be controlled by hackers exploiting easy-to-find security vulnerabilities.

The problems affect Samsung televisions, along with TV models made by TCL and other brands that use the Roku TV platform. While evaluating smart TVs for data privacy and security, Consumer Reports came across a vulnerability in some smart TVs that can be exploited by a hacker who could write code to control the TV without the user’s permission.

Consumer Reports was able to demonstrate how a hacker could potentially take over your TV -- change channels, play offensive content, or turn the volume up to full blast. All without your control.

This happens because many smart TVs have a programming interface, called an API, that lets you use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control over wifi. In some cases, Consumer Reports found that this API was not properly secured and that could let a hacker control your TV.

This investigation marks Consumer Reports' first tests using the Digital Standard, which was developed to evaluate the privacy and security of products and services. When CR reached out to Samsung and Roku, both companies said they taken privacy and security seriously. TCL referred to Roku's response. 

To find out more about what you can do to protect your personal privacy, and limit the amount of data your smart TV is collecting about you, you can go to Consumer Reports.org for instructions specific to your TV. 

A spokeperson with Samsung said:  

“Protecting consumer data is one of our top priorities. Samsung’s privacy practices are specifically designed to keep the personal information of consumers secure. Our Smart TVs include a number of features that combine data security with the best possible user experience. Before collecting any information from consumers, we always ask for their consent, and we make every effort to ensure that data is handled with the utmost care.   We have been in contact with Consumer Reports regarding the evaluation of our Smart TV and are looking into the specific points made. To ensure the security of any device, we continue to evaluate the feedback we receive on all of our connected products.”

“All Consumer Reports Material Copyright © 2018_ Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED”

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