Hackers can hack the camera on your new Samsung TV … Or can they?

Here’s a story that reeks of crisis, but in reality is much ado about nothing.  Sadly, it’s the type of story that media outlets love to trumpet.

NBC News is reporting that security researchers have hacked into the new Samsung line of high-end TVs which contain a camera and microphone, taking control of all functions and data on the TVs, including the camera and mike.   So, no hanky-panky on the couch!

The so called “smart TV” is typically a Linux computer that functions pretty much exclusively as a full function TV.  Because they attach to your home network, they can provide all sorts of Net based functionality including widgets and access to alternative content providers like Netflix and Hulu.

Because they are computers, they also are vulnerable to being hacked, just like any other device on your network.  It’s frankly not surprising that in the lab, security researchers have been successful.

The question is whether to be alarmed or in the extreme, shy away from smart TVs?  The answer?  As long as you’ve maintained your router properly and have tight enough WIFI security (if your TV is using a wireless connection), then there is nothing to be worried about.

The only way researchers were able to hack the TV was from a local network and not from the wider Internet.  This means that the Russian mafia  can’t hack your TV unless you’ve given them access to your home network.  The key is in the router, which shields all computers and devices from being seen or accessed from the Internet.  The biggest vulnerability is in the security of your WIFI network, which if you’re using strong encryption, you should be safe.

For more information about how to secure your network, see my Overview of Home Networking and Primer on Security Issues posts.

Otherwise, get a good nights sleep 🙂

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