NEW YORK – One of the hottest items this holiday season are so-called, “smart-TVs,” but government officials are warning the public that the televisions are likely to be watching consumers.
“Popular holiday gifts can invite unpopular guest into your home without your knowledge. It's nothing less than a violation of privacy of New Yorkers and it’s got to stop now,” United States Senator Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
“Last month the FBI confirmed our fear by stating that smart-TVs present a number of security threats to upstate New Yorkers and Americans,” said Schumer.
Schumer said the National Institute of Standards and Technologies had recently released guidelines for the industry to improve security after concerns were expressed. A recent consumer report also noted the issue and indicated there are millions of vulnerable smart-TVs that contain easily exploitable security flaw
“These TVs are hooked up to the internet and their manufacturers and software application developers can sometimes collect personal and private information on users. Not just the industry but malicious actors can too, because there have been many instances of hackers breaking into smart-TVs and doing all kinds of bad things,” said the senator.
The smart-TVs often come with cameras and microphones that record users in their home. Information can be collected and used sometimes without user's knowledge by developers and other associated software companies, said Schumer.
“They can record your conversations in day-to-day life. You're sitting on the couch with your spouse, or kid, with a friend, and you're saying things you don't want other people to hear, and they (hackers and the tech companies) can pick them up. So this is a bad thing and it has actually happened.”
Once a hacker has access to one device on a network, such as a smart-TV, they can gain access to all the devices on the network. The more connected devices you own, the greater the risk.