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Consumer Reports: Consumer reports finds TV security flaw

This photo provided by Westinghouse Electronics shows a blend of streaming TV services and over-the-air channels on a Westinghouse TV. Amazon’s streaming TV software will appear on a new line of smart TVs designed to blend streaming TV services and over-the-air channels, but not cable packages. The TVs from Element Electronics will be sold under the Element and Westinghouse brands. While Samsung and LG are still developing their own smart TV systems, many other manufacturers have abandoned in-house efforts and are turning instead to a streaming TV company such as Roku, and now Amazon. (Westinghouse Electronics via AP)

Could your TV be controlled by hackers? A new investigation by Consumer Reports found millions of smart TVs don't do enough to protect your security.

Consumer Reports has found millions of smart TVs from major manufacturers can be controlled by hackers exploiting easy-to-find security vulnerabilities. The problems affect Samsung televisions along with TV models made by TCL and other brands that use the Roku TV platform. While evaluating smart TVs for data privacy and security, CR came across a vulnerability in some smart TVs that can be exploited by a hacker, who could write code to control the TV without the user’s permission.

CR was able to demonstrate how a hacker could potentially take over your TV by changing channels, playing offensive content, or turning the volume up to full blast. All without your control. This happens because many smart TVs have a programming interface, called an API, that lets you use for smartphone or tablet as a remote control over WiFi. In some cases, CR found that this API was not properly secured and that could let a hacker control your TV.

This investigation marks Consumer Reports' first tests using the Digital Standard, which was developed to evaluate the privacy and security of products and services. When CR reached out to Samsung and Roku, both companies said they take privacy and security seriously. TCL referred to Roku's response.

To find out more about what you can do to protect your personal privacy, and limit the amount of data your smart TV is collecting about you, you can go to ConsumerReports.org for instructions specific to your TV.

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