Where Are Cameras & Mics hidden on Smart TVs? How Secure Are You With A Smart TV
Smart TVs are slowly becoming the standard for every family. In every 10 families, at least 5 have a Smart TV in their home.
However, despite the pros of using a Smart TV, there are still major disadvantages due to its add-ons; The biggest of which is the security and privacy issue brought about by the presence of a hidden camera and microphone in the device.
Is this the first time you’re reading about these features?
If it isn’t, how many times have you sat in your living room and wondered if your TV could be snooping through your information and watching you?
Most people do not actually know about these cameras or microphones and think little of what harm a snooping Smart TV could cause.
While others have used these features to spread conspiracy theories- they most times claim the government uses the microphone and camera to watch and listen to different families in their homes.
Well, the truth is sensitive data gathered by Smart TVs can be used not only by the government but also by manufacturers and cybercriminals.
This article would provide you with the necessary solutions to reduce your privacy infringements by your Smart TV.
We’ll also provide you with details on how to find the location of a camera and microphone on your device. Read on to know how to secure your Smart TV from malicious attacks.
Before we go on it’s quite important to state some facts.
- Not all Smart TVs are prone to spying.
- Most Smart TVs have ACR- ‘Automatic Content Recognition’.
- ACR is responsible for tracking your activities on the TV in order to give applicable ads.
Table of Contents
- 1 Microphone and Camera component in Smart TVs
- 2 How to locate the camera and microphone on a Samsung TV
- 3 How to locate the camera and microphone on Vizio TV
- 4 How to locate the camera and microphone on a Sony TV
- 5 How to locate the camera and mic on an LG TV
- 6 Is my Smart TV keeping tabs on me?
- 7 Why will they sell this data?
- 8 What can the data be used for?
- 9 Can my Smart TV be hacked?
- 10 How to switch off the camera and microphone components in your Smart TV
- 11 Step-by-step directions on turning off your tracking features:
- 12 Can I choose to uninstall these functions?
- 13 What do you mean by voiding my warranty?
- 14 How to know if the camera is functional
- 15 How to know when your Microphone is eavesdropping
- 16 Securing your Smart TV
- 16.1 Use of Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- 16.2 Use of 4k streaming media sticks
- 16.3 Use of password and entry codes
- 16.4 Use of Covering piece
- 16.5 Use only updated firmware and software
- 16.6 Use a wired network
- 16.7 Use only trusted apps
- 16.8 Be wary of USB Devices
- 16.9 Use a single account for all apps and payments options
How to know if your smart TV has a built in camera?
Not all Smart TVs have Microphones and Cameras installed
The best way to know if your Smart TV has a camera or microphone is to check if it supports video calls. If it does there’s a big chance that it has an embedded mic and camera in it. It could also support third-party web cameras.
Microphone and Camera component in Smart TVs
The main motive for these built-in devices is for Smart TV owners to make use of the voice commands and video conferencing function of the Smart TV.
Have you tried locating where your TV’s camera is embedded or where the mic is placed?
You’re not alone. We have also.
Thanks to evolving technology, most Smart TVs have built-in mics and cams. They are often placed side-by-side above the TV screen. This is because they are both needed to be together for video chats.
The microphone is usually characterized by a tiny opening at the upper edge of the TV screen.
Some Smart TVs however have their microphone integrated with the TV remote.
The camera on the other hand is usually beside the microphone and is characterized by the circle of the lens.
The TV bezels usually shadow this lens, so the lens pops out when it is needed. Both are in front of the screen.
Let’s dive into the exact locations of the microphone and camera on different Smart TV models.
The location varies depending on the manufacturer of the Smart TV. Some place them at the middle, some at the far left edge, and others at the right.
How to locate the camera and microphone on a Samsung TV
Samsung manufacturers usually place the camera and mic in the middle of the screen. Although, not all Smart TVs manufactured by Samsung have this feature. Modern models also have these mics on their remotes as well as beside the camera on the screen.
How to locate the camera and microphone on Vizio TV
Vizio has not updated their technology to having embedded cameras and mics in their Smart TV. The organization however sells Vizio webcams that are agreeable with models of the Smart TV unit.
How to locate the camera and microphone on a Sony TV
Sony TVs are popular in the Smart TV market because people feel safer with them.
Why do people feel this way?
They do because Sony TVs do not build in microphones and cameras in their TVs. With a Sony product, your fears of being spied on become unfounded. The company might soon start rolling out Smart TVs with inbuilt mics and cameras, but till that happens, you’re safer with Sony.
How to locate the camera and mic on an LG TV
LG TV has Smart TV models that have contractible cameras that can be folded back when not in use. This reduces the TV’s odds of poking around your affairs.
Is my Smart TV keeping tabs on me?
It probably is. It keeps tabs on you by tracking the information you watch on the TV. With Automatic Content Recognition (ACR), a TV can monitor your habits, and then relay the information gathered to the manufacturer’s company. These data can even be sold to the highest bidders among marketing organizations.
Why will they sell this data?
What can the data be used for?
We’re sure you’ve had instances when after concluding a movie, the TV recommends movies that are relatable to the just concluded one. For example, after concluding the game of thrones, your TV could recommend Vikings.
Another instance is when you just finish a video call on your TV, and then the next thing that pops up on the screen is something you talked about while on that call.
Well, ACR uses the microphone to listen in on conversations and then tune the ads to something relatable. It pushes out similar contents for you.
Some manufacturers inform their customers repeatedly of their embedded microphones that keep a tap on audio. Samsung once released a statement to this effect. It warned that information is usually transmitted to a third party.
Most Samsung customers refrain from using voice commands while uttering sensitive information.
Can my Smart TV be hacked?
Yes, it can. When your activities are shadowed by a Smart TV, a lot of sensitive information gets put out. Hackers can gain control of your Smart TV in various ways. Some of which include:
- Through a breach in your wifi router password or set-top-box
- Through your IoT botnets
- Through signal hijacks
- By tracking your location with aid of the onboard microphone.
When hackers succeed in attempts, the best way to know your Smart TV is compromised is that your remote control would be overridden, other times the TV channels and volume would be played with by these hackers.
In unfortunate cases, these hackers can do a lot of harm, especially when you are unknowingly familiar with them. Malicious attacks could be from personal contacts like friends and families.
With the abundance of private data on Smart TV, hackers could mine a lot. From payment details to login information, even information on used credit cards and other bank details can be mined from streaming subscription plans.
These hackers can use the mined information to make heavy online purchases that can’t be traced back to them.
Is it difficult for Smart TV to be hacked?
The difficulty varies.
It depends on the type of defense installed on the Smart TV.
Lately, Smart TV manufacturers have taken to adding more security layers to the applications on the TV. This is their proactive effort in ensuring security and privacy.
How to switch off the camera and microphone components in your Smart TV
Camera and Microphones are used by unknown elements to shadow your activities online on a television. Most of these observations are done without your authorization or consent…
The best way to limit this is by turning off the camera and microphone embedded in the Smart TV. While Smart TV models vary, they all have a common way of switching off their tracking features.
Step-by-step directions on turning off your tracking features:
- Step1: Launch the ‘Settings menu’
- Step 2: Click on ‘privacy options’
- Step 3: Search for the ‘advertising’ icon
- Step4: Choose ‘limit as tracking’
- Step 5: Now head to mic and can accessibility
- Step 6: Switch it off.
Can I choose to uninstall these functions?
Yes, you can. But it would cause issues down the line…
Removing the camera and mic from your Smart TV is the same as you choosing to void your issued warranty.
There’s also a probability of you doing more harm than good- when you remove something vital needed for your Smart TV to work properly.
It is better to turn off rather than remove your microphone and camera, to save costs if buying a piece of third-party equipment.
What do you mean by voiding my warranty?
One of the conditions needed to retain the validity of your warranty is that the Smart TV must not be tampered with in any form. Opening, rewiring, or removing any hardware nullifies your warranty.
How to know if the camera is functional
There’s no true way to ascertain this. However, you can authorize as well as deny apps access to your Smart TV’s camera.
The best way to make sure your Smart TV’s camera isn’t functional is to shroud the camera lens with black tape. This would prevent your camera from monitoring your movements.
How to know when your Microphone is eavesdropping
You can know this by restricting the Smart TVs all of microphone access. Although, there’s a low probability of your being able to make it inactive.
Some people take pieces of foam/cotton to the hole of the mic, however, this can only reduce the voice, some information might still filter in-that is your microphone may still be able to pick up tidbits of audio information.
Securing your Smart TV
With your privacy being constantly violated by your Smart TV components, we have proposed suggestions on how to protect your Smart TV.
Use of Virtual Private Network (VPN)
This brings added advantage to your Smart TV network as it secures your viewing and streaming habits.
What does it do?
A virtual private network masks your ip4v address with another locale address of your choosing. This gives the virtual ability to momentarily relocate.
With a VPN, a tracker gets confused about your exact location. You can also use a VPN to get access to apps that are originally blocked in your location.
One thing to note is that for a VPN to be compatible with your appliance, it needs to be downloaded from the Smart TV store app.
Use of 4k streaming media sticks
While this is not a perfect method of securing your Smart TV, it works to a point. What we mean is that a streaming media stick also uses the internet to function, so it is liable to attract and privacy violations through the ACR feature.n
However, its lack of connectivity is the saving grace in using a media stick. Examples of these media sticks include Roku, Amazon fire stick, etc.
With a non-Smart TV and a streaming stick, you can get the features of a Smart TV excluding its privacy breaching components.
Use of password and entry codes
Your top-set box, wifi router, and other applications on your Smart TV must have passwords.
The password set must be alphanumeric, that is, it must have alphabets, numbers, and probably other characters.
For example, a very strong password should look like this – Alpha167##. You must reset your password frequently to block default backdoor breaches on your network.
Use of Covering piece
You can use a black opaque tape to cover the camera lens of your Smart TV and you can partially block your microphone pinhole with a tiny foam or cotton material inserted into the pinhole.
In addition to this, all applications should be denied access to using the camera and microphone components.
Use only updated firmware and software
Firmware and software must always be updated as soon as new updates are released. Doing this ensures your Smart TV remains less prone to malicious attacks.
Software updates usually contain bug fixes and safety updates for your Smart TV, the same as in other computing equipment.
Use a wired network
Wifi routers are more liable to attacks than Ethernet and Local Area Network because for any unwanted element to get access to it, they’d need to do it physically.
Another method is to disable internet connectivity when the Smart TV is not in use.
For example, when you’re playing music with the BlueTooth feature, you do not need to leave your internet connection on. Doing this would reduce a lot of risks.
Use only trusted apps
Make sure you download only from the Smart TV app store. And read through the terms and agreement of every app, before agreeing to install it on your Smart TV.
Some app developers and manufacturers sometimes team up to bury data-stealing agendas under thick lines of terms.
Be wary of USB Devices
Any devices you choose to insert into your Smart TV must contain no harmful content.
Devices with malicious contents could end up corrupting your Smart TV. You need to ascertain the source of a USB Device and if it has been modified or not.
Make conscious efforts to restrict the number of devices that can be plugged or paired with your Smart TV. Prevention is better than cure, you know.
Use a single account for all apps and payments options
First , we would ask that you do not link your social media accounts to any of the apps on your Smart TV. This is one way a hacker could gain access to your details.
In unavoidable events when You need to log in with it, try your possible best to log out as soon as you’re done with your tasks. You can also make use of 2F-A security methods to prevent unwanted access to your data.
Other suggestions include:
- Use of anti-virus software
- De-activate voice commands on remote and Smart TV
- Disable the internet totally( although this might seem to be impractical, it is the most effective way to prevent unwanted access)
- Use the most prohibitory options.
You might wonder if having a Smart TV is worth this level of risk exposure.
Well, all technology innovations do have its downside.
Smart TV can pick up information from what you say and the activities you perform on them. From basic family discussions to usual TV shows, your TV might be listening and watching. Relaying data to the manufactures who then proceed to put it out for sale.
Hopefully, as technology evolves there will be more ways to curb these security risks, giving us the perfect way to watch movies and listen to music from the internet. As well as get value for the price of the Smart TV appliance.
Don’t forget to add security layers all over your Smart TV network. Enjoy your secured Smart TV network with or without your microphone and camera components.
Am a Professional App Developer with 5 years experience, am also a Tech Author and Writer, I also spend my whole day either writing a script or writing an interest article about our tech world.
I love to talk about technology that has to do with Windows and Mac OS, Software and Mobile Apps as I understand That users now want to enjoy their favorite apps on their PC