Admit it, your life will never be the same without checking your smartphone every single day or streaming your favorite TV series whenever you feel like doing it. Yes, we have been relying too much on the Internet that even our own home appliances are relying on it too.
From smart routers, smart lights, to smart televisions, home appliances that make use of the Internet are taking the world by storm. Not only are they increasing in numbers but also they are becoming less expensive. While they make our lives much easier to live, they also come with risks. Actually, anything that makes use of the Internet always comes with security risks.
Smart home appliances were built with little to no security in mind. This makes them easy targets for hackers and spies alike. Take, for example, smart TVs. They have currently aroused much controversy because of their ability to spy on their consumers. VIZIO, Inc., a top-selling smart TV maker and distributor, agreed to pay $2.2 million dollars to the Federal Trade Commission after having been found guilty of collecting the viewing histories of 11 million smart TV consumers without their consent (see www.ftc.gov for further details).
So, how do you keep your smart TV secure from hackers and spies?
The first and simplest solution is to disconnect your smart TV from the Internet. Just go to 'Settings', find the Wi-Fi on/off toggle, and then choose off. If your smart TV can still connect to your home network, reset it to its default factory settings. Once you turn it on again, you then go through its set-up routine. Make sure to never type in your Wi-Fi password so that it will not automatically connect anymore to your home network.
Though the above solution takes care of your problem a hundred percent, it is not always practical. Of course, you bought a smart TV to utilize its Internet capabilities, so why should you disconnect it, right? For consumers who want another way, then there is good news for you. You can instead get TV boxes or dongles for continued movie viewing and streaming experience. These streaming devices are easy to use and control and come with a wide range of features. In addition, they seldom track your viewing habits because they are guided by strict privacy terms. Try checking out the Amlogic S805 TV Dongle Stick D5 on www.wgtvboxes.com.
Another solution is making sure that your wireless router is secured and equipped with the latest firmware. Here are some tips to protect your wireless router as well as your smart appliances:
- Stay away from the WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) protocol because it is easily compromised. Use instead the WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) protocol while only utilizing a strong, complex password. A strong password is composed of a minimum of 8 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
- Change your default SSID/Wi-Fi name. Choose a name that does not give a clue on your personal information. For example, do not use "[your name]'s Wi-Fi".
- Deactivate access to guest networks. Be strict about who or what can gain access to you home network.
- If your wireless router is capable of handling multiple SSIDs, create two different Wi-Fi networks. The first network should solely be for devices used for general web activity and online shopping and banking. The second network, on the other hand, should be for your smart appliances only.
- Manage your Wi-Fi password properly. Never utilize the default passwords of your wireless network and smart appliances. Always change the administrator-provided password to something more complex (see item 1 for strong password suggestion). Furthermore, make sure to change your password regularly.
- Activate the firewall protection of your network. You can do this by turning on the built-in firewall that comes with your wireless network. You can also activate the firewall that is integrated with your Windows OS. If you want additional protection, you can get a professional firewall software.
- If you have several smart appliances besides smart TVs, it would be wise to have a unified threat management (UTM) appliance installed. It manages your Internet access, provides antivirus protection, and handles intrusion prevention and detection. Try to check the Fortinet Fortigate and HPE Security Logger bundle.
Now, if you want to make sure that your smart TV is safe from manufacturers tracking down your viewing history, here are some things you can do depending on your smart TV brand.
For VIZIO smart TVs, choose the Menu option, then go to System. Choose Reset & Admin, select Smart Interactivity, and then choose the right arrow to toggle over the off option.
For LG smart TVs that are part of the Live Plus models, go to Options, choose Live Plus, and then switch it off.
For Samsung smart TVs, you should know that the first time you turn one on, it asks for your consent if it can track down your viewing behavior. If you have declined it, then all is well. However, if you have missed this out, then things are still not too late for you. Go to the Smart Hub menu, then access Terms & Policy. Select SyncPlus and Marketing, and make sure to disable it. Also, make sure to disable its Voice Recognition Services just to be on the safe side.
If you have a Sony smart TV, then there's good news for you. Majority of Sony smart TV models now utilize Android TV. This means that you are covered by Google's privacy terms and conditions. So, your viewing behavior is safe from being tracked down.