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Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Millions of smart TVs vulnerable to hackers, Consumer Reports says

Millions of smart TVs vulnerable to hackers, Consumer Reports says

VP Gary Ellison wrote: "Consumer Reports issued a report saying that Roku TVs and players are vulnerable to hacking".

The stipulated federal court order requires VIZIO to prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices, and prohibits misrepresentations about the privacy, security, or confidentiality of consumer information they collect.

"Roku devices have a totally unsecured remote control API enabled by default", says Eason Goodale, Disconnect's lead engineer. The company says it tested various Roku products and five smart TVs with the help of privacy company Disconnect.

Smart TVs evolved from entertaining gimmick to the only option in a shockingly short window of time.

Hacking risk aside, the report found that the smart TVs it evaluated asked for permission to collect viewing data and other information, but it wasn't necessarily easy for users to understand what information they were agreeing to share, and there was a tendency to request oversharing - such as monitoring everything a TV watcher did, whether it was streaming, playing a DVD or watching paid TV.

"To become a victim, a TV user would need to be using a phone or laptop running on the same Wi-Fi network as the television, and then visit a site or download a mobile app with malicious code", said Consumer Reports. Security and privacy testing of several brands has also revealed broad-based data collection. Smart TVs can identify every show watched by a user using automatic content recognition or ACR technology. These standards were developed by Consumer Reports and partner cybersecurity and privacy organizations to set parameters defining how manufacturers should handle security, privacy and other digital rights. Do this, though, and you essentially don't have a smart TV anymore.

One of the big things in smart TVs today is apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more.

In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, the agencies allege. "And", Brookman says, "if you can't figure it out, call customer support and make them walk you through it". These include what they're watching and searching. Unfortunately, that is another problem with smart TVs that was covered in the investigation.

In a recent Consumer Reports subscriber survey of 38,000 smart TV owners, 51 per cent were at least somewhat anxious about the privacy implications of smart TVs and 62 per cent were at least somewhat anxious about the sets' security practices.

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