FBI issues warning about smart TV hacking

The FBI has a warning for consumers who bought a new smart TV for Cyber Monday or during the holiday weekend.

Cyber criminals can hack into smart TVs, or use the router as a backdoor to your computer or other devices, according to the FBI.

Most people with smart devices use a passcode, their fingerprint or face to unlock a device -- but smart TVs don’t come with those defenses. The FBI said most people rely on the default settings and passwords on their smart TVs, and that makes the device more vulnerable to attacks.

“They could come in and use all the same features and applications or settings that you would have access to,” said Luis Valdes, the assistant director of technology and cyber security at Cyber Florida.

Valdes said it’s more common than most people may think. Manufacturers put the default settings online in the vendor’s documentation, he said.

“They can access the same way they can access your TV, your privacy -- everything because you have all your information, your payment information," said Amy Walls of Tampa. "It's scary."

The first step to protect yourself is to change the default password on your TV. 

“So, if you leave a device with default settings, it leaves it vulnerable to somebody being able to login,” said Valdes. “If it's a camera, (it’s) being able to view, and if it's a listening or speaking device, it gives them the ability to be able to use that communication channel as well.”

And if you’re willing to go an extra step, cyber experts said you can set up your smart TV on a separate network.

“You can keep your network separate. So, say you had that separate network in your home and the device was compromised, you wouldn't have to worry about someone getting over into your home computers or anything like that,” said Valdes.

Consumers with smart TVs said they try to do what they can.

“It's good to have safety and know that you're doing everything you can to protect yourself and your identity,” said Kaela McIntosh of Tampa.

If your smart TV has a camera and you can’t change the settings to turn it off, the FBI said you can just put black tape over it. You should also keep up to date with any software update the television manufacturer releases.