2 FBI agents with the Hostage Rescue Team were killed in a training accident off Virginia Beach Friday. Creative Commons

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning to U.S. citizens regarding the use of Smart TVs. These internet-connected devices reportedly provide hackers a window into their homes, allowing them to spy on Smart TV users without them knowing.

As the Cyber Monday sales saw discounted Smart TVs fly off the shelves, the FBI encouraged Smart TV users to stick tape over their Smart TV cameras for added security. This is because Smart TV features like built-in cameras, microphones and facial recognition software can provide hackers an opening to violate people’s privacy.

According to the FBI, hackers can control unsecured Smart TVs and use them to access one’s router. By using that as a bridgehead, they can easily get into the person’s computer or smartphone and gain access to his home network.

“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home,” said Portland, Oregon’s FBI spokesperson. “A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router,” he added.

Hackers can also change channels, play with the TV’s volume and show kids inappropriate videos by remotely taking control of unsecured Smart TVs. There are even cases where hackers turn on one’s bedroom TV’s camera and microphone to cyber-stalk.

To avoid hackers, the FBI encourages Smart TV users to install security updates and customize their privacy options. It also helps checking the privacy policy of the TV manufacturer and the streaming services they use and confirming what data they collect, how they store data and what they do with these data.

The FBI also recommends knowing what features their Smart TV has and how they can control these features. According to the FBI, Smart TV users must learn how to turn off the microphones and cameras of their Smart TVs. “If you can’t turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option,” said the FBI.

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