Do Smart TVs Have Privacy Issues and Security Risks?

Smart TVs Have Privacy Issues You Should Know About

Let’s face it, as more smart features and options become available in your choices of smart TVs more privacy issues and security risks are present. Smart TVs have security risks. Smart TVs have privacy issues. This article discusses smart TV security risks and related concerns.

Sure, you enjoy all the cool features and the convenience Smart TVs offer. Smart TVs give you Internet access to streaming apps and other services, including video chat applications.

Have you ever felt like you can’t trust smart TV manufacturers? Do smart TVs have privacy issues? Do smart TVs have security risks? Yes, smart TVs have privacy issues and security risks.

Smart TVs make it easier to stream movies and your favorite TV shows. You can search for your favorite content using your voice. With all these services come an increase in smart TV privacy issues and security risks.

In a hurry? Go here to find out about specific privacy issues and security risks. And, what you can do to protect your privacy and sensitive information.

Several watchdog groups have accused some Chinese manufacturers of intentionally incorporating ‘backdoors’ into the software that is used in their smart TVs. This would create privacy issues and security concerns. In 2020, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad F. Work, made statements of such acts in a transcript published by the department.

image of smart TVs have security risks

What is a Smart TV?

Just as CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions went by the wayside, so will the TVs that can only access content via an antenna or wired cable service. smart TVs are connected to the world.

Note: For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term “CRT”, the TVs that used them were bulky and heavy. The glass tube that displayed the picture usually contained from 4 to 8 pounds of lead. The first cathode ray tube was first demonstrated more than 120 years ago, in the year 1897.

Just like your computer is connected your smart TV uses powerful processors and intuitive and easy-to-navigate software to connect to the Internet. They have more capabilities than the old “Not so Smart” televisions.

Because smart TVs connect to the Internet and use multiple software applications they are vulnerable to software and Internet hacks. They can have both privacy and security issues and vulnerabilities. The privacy issues and security risks that are present on our computers and smartphones are now present in our living rooms.

A smart TV can connect to smart lights, smart locks, and other devices in your Smart Home. Some smart TVs actually can be used as the central control platform for all your smart home devices. So now you are creating many possible attack surfaces that can lead to privacy issues and security risks. All smart home devices should be secured in accordance with best practices.

A smart TV is usually capable of being control by voice and interactive applications. Smart TVs have the ability to connect to other smart devices. You can connect your phone to your smart TV. This allows you to watch movies and look at photos. Also, you can use this setup for video calls. Smart TVs offer something for the whole family.

image of family using a smart tv and enjoying the convenience and benefits

What are the benefits of owning a smart TV?

There must be some benefits of owning a smart TV or nobody would buy them. These benefits are a result of advancements in technology. Are the benefits worth the added privacy issues and security risks?

Let’s look at the main reasons people buy a smart TV and the benefits:

  • More Functionality — People want more functionality, that’s the bottom line. Smart TVs offer way more functionality than the old “Dumb TVs.”
  • Convenience — People buy smart TVs for functionality but soon realize perhaps convenience is the biggest benefit. It’s so easy to stream any one of dozens of streaming services. Smart TVs can also control multiple smart devices all from one convenient location.
  • User Friendliness’ and intuitiveness — Manufactures and engineers have created products that are easy to set up and easy to use. Smart TVs use intuitive software to make them more user-friendly.
  • Smartphone Compatibility — It’s a simple process to cast content from your smartphone to your smart TV. Also, by simply downloading an App you control control all features of your smart TV from your smartphone. You can take and make voice and video calls from your smart TV.

There are many other factors that make a smart TV desirable to own:

Smart TVs are very reliableEliminate clutter by combining functionality
Access social networksUSB connectivity
More than just television programmingNew models are very affordable

The family room entertainment experience is no longer strictly a passive experience. Smart TVs create an interactive environment for the entire family. The smart TV has become a source of immense entertainment.

Smart TVs can be used for playing online games, stream movies, watch television shows, and even for education. The more we use smart televisions the more we should be concerned about privacy issues and security risks that are inherent to new products and technologies. Smart TVs have privacy issues that should be addressed.

image of a spy watching through a smart tvs have security risks and privacy issues

Privacy Issues and Security Risks When Using a Smart Television

Many people do not realize that smart TVs have privacy issues. Many Smart TVs feature a technology called Automatic Content Recognition (ACR), which essentially tracks what you watch and then sells that data to advertisers.

Smart TVs have security risks also. Smart TVs are always online. constantly connected to the Internet. Smart TVs are also usually connected to other smart devices in our smart homes. This creates attack surfaces for hackers.

There have been many instances when hackers have taken control and got access to settings and applications used by the smart TV. Hackers have been able to compromise online accounts by accessing Apps on the smart TV. Hackers have been able to change settings and gain access to built-in video cameras and microphones.

banner image of ESET antivirus for android

Hackers can even control your programming under the right circumstances. These smart TVs don’t have any defensive capabilities to fight against these intrusions. Once a hacker discovers a vulnerability they can continue to abuse that vulnerability until it is patched by the manufacture with a security update.

Smart TVs and other smart home devices can give hackers a way to access other devices in your home that share the network, like your laptop. That’s right, a hacker may not be able to access your information on your laptop directly but may be able to by hacking a smart TV or other devices.

image of spy listening like on a smart tv microphone that has privacy issues and security risks

How to protect yourself from smart TV privacy issues and security risks

There are certain precautions and actions you can take to minimize the risk to your privacy and enhance your protection against smart TV security risks. Here are some effective actions to take:

  • Turn off Smart TV Snooping Features — Disable the technology called automatic content recognition (ACR). The settings are often hard to find, depending on the brand of your smart TV. Here is an article published by Consumer Reports® that states the fact that smart TVs have privacy issues and outlines a procedure to turn off ACR.
  • Download ESET® Smart TV Security — ESET protects your TV against Android security issues, including ransomware attacks. ESET also checks every connected USB device to keep malware from accessing your Smart TV. It also helps to prevent unauthorized access and misuse of your data while you are connected. ESET Smart TV Security is available as a free version as well as a premium version.
image of hacker stealing email address from smart tv that has privacy and security issues

What are 5 Smart TV Security Tips?

smart tvs have security issues - image for 5 tips to secure smart tvs

1) Change the administrative password in your smart TVs’ settings, if possible.
2) Ensure your smart TVs’ firmware is up-to-date and make sure manufacture security updates are downloaded.
3) Disable the smart TV camera and microphone when not in use.
4) Ensure connected devices have passwords and security enabled.
5) Ensure the network your smart TV is connected to is secure.

If you think you’ve been the victim of cyber fraud or a hack, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office.

You can’t rely on device-makers and programmers to protect us from cybercriminals. Unless you take steps to secure your devices, hackers will continue to find their vulnerabilities and security flaws.

Read more: Learn about the security of your smart home devices

Resource: Security Review of Consumer Home Internet of Things (IoT) Products

Read more: The importance of keeping your kids safe online

Remember, if you have been a victim of cyber fraud, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office. Smart TVs have privacy issues and security risks that must be acknowledged.

Featured image “Mockup Vector” by VectorPocket

Updated 07/26/2021 by Kirby Allen