A New Generation watching Smart TV
The Internet of New Old Things
The pastime of the folk of today is no doubt centralized around the watching of Television. The industry has grown and
expanded into the realm of digital technology. The inevitable transformation that every else has done shifting from its
isolated environment and integrating itself into the world of The Internet of Things.
This is no exaggerated example. Many a business has moved their records and transactions onto the computer. Cell
phone and internet banking become services used daily. Uber service has replaced the traditional taxi, and Uber Eats
the traditional delivery man respectively. Your car stereo-system is integrated with your mobile phone while the latter
has replaced your pen and notebook becoming an ever-present PDA (personal data assistant). Music has shifted from
the analog cassette to the intangible form of an MP3. And while the sound engineer will speak of their longing
sentiment for analog quality, producers today prefer to use digital means for flexibility and efficiency.
Despite the medium and tools advancing in nature, their function stays the same, with somethings never changing. One
of those things is the process of watching TV, and while we speak of an improved change in technology and culture,
some old habits die hard.
This article looks at security vulnerabilities discovered recently via the Smart TV and guides the user in taking measures
to protect themselves.
Unavoidable Security Concerns
Everything that becomes a thing on the all-pervasive internet, by definition becomes a thing that is identifiable.
Every device that is integrated into that ubiquitous cybernetic plain receives the inevitable trait – or rather an attribute –
of having an IP address (Internet Protocol). The theory upholds that any device that joins a network, whether public or
private must designate itself an address of which can be accessed or at least referred to by another device.
And it follows naturally that anything visible as a node on a network can be pried and probed by a curious user who via
their technical knowledge can ably traverse the pathways and try hack away at that device.
This brings us to the general concern of security regarding our Smart TV.
It’s common knowledge that information now takes the form of something intangible but by no means unreadable. It is
this thing which security experts and technical specialists daily strive to protect against the prying eyes of intruders. On
the other hand, it is the actual device being compromised and to the horror of the user performing things beyond their
It’s amusingly ironic to note that most of these anxious fears are usually portrayed in the very fictional media that the
audience could be watching, then and there on their Smart TV.
Ghost in the Machine
Before we describe how to secure your Smart TV against invasion, we must list the possibilities that entail a hacker
whose gained access to the device.
If a Smart TV is compromised a variety of unsettling, eerie things could occur. The volume could suddenly be turned up
blasting away the user; the channel could switch to another show and with that play content offensive to the senses. It
goes without saying that someone unsure of what’s happening could be heavily startled.
The means that this is achieved is via the hacker infecting a device on the same network, usually with Trojan malware
and then laterally accessing the Smart TV device. This vulnerability is imputed to the nature of operating software
embedded into the device which in its single-purpose design cannot flexibly withstand penetration.
There are a few protective measures the user can take to shield their Smart TV from this mischief:
Avoid using the Remote Control App
Keep the device firmware up to date
Ensure your WiFi network is secure
Other tech enthusiasts suggest abandoning the smart features and just plugging in a streaming device into the display,
but this would reduce the TV to nothing more than a bland streaming device.
An Inordinate amount of data-capturing
Although a hacker can hijack the TV’s behavior from afar, they cannot steal any private content about that user which
brings us to the issue of privacy and data-capturing.
Recently Consumer Reports has carried out a thorough study of Samsung Start tvs and the Roku TV Platform in accord
with the new Digital Standard. They discovered the security exploits that allowed hackers to cause mischief but also
discovered what could be considered an inordinate amount of data-capturing performed on the user, recording their
habits and streaming trends.
All of this in the interest of discovering marketing patterns in favor of advertisement, of which the user will be patently
targeted with hopeful adverts suiting their needs.
The concern of this is relative in scope, but it comes down to the consumer feeling uncomfortable with their personal
trends being observed in their moments of passive leisure. By a matter of principle the consuming process should stop
there in their living room, instead, the marketing character analysis and data capturing continuous. Is it not enough that
the person has bought a TV and making use of the Hollywood entertainment produced?
The exchange of parting with private information is the agreeable trade-off that most members are willing to accept as
long as the relationship is mutual. In the eco-system of marketing and information, most users are aware that they at
least take part in some kind of invisible survey whenever watching YouTube or browsing Facebook. But is it necessary
for someone to feel scrutinized even when at peace comfortably watching a show on the telly?
When the exchange process shifts from mutual to parasitic, where within the user is having advertisement forced upon
him in an overly persuasive manner, there could be an invitation for concern.
Finally, there is the thought that somewhere out there is a record kept of all the ongoings and trends of a person which
could fall into the hands of an inimical party.
There is a disagreeable of marketing that overlaps within the entertainment industry. Even today, not a day passes
when a Facebook user doesn’t post an explosive complaint in reaction to the imposition of online adverts. On the same
hand, the entertainment industry seems to expand beyond acceptable boundaries concerning ACR (Automatic Content
How can one who might be navigating to YouTube for either a work-related tutorial or a casual video reconcile having a
Netflix show pushed upon them, especially if that show is incongruent with their personality or lifestyle?
Yuri Bezmenov, former Russian KGB agent who defected from India after developing split loyalty (falling in love with the
country he was assigned to), said the following:
“Indian people come from a culture of family tradition and rich heritage. I remember seeing dozens of people walking
out of a movie theatre shaking their heads in disbelief. They don’t understand American people with their agenda. They
don’t understand why cars are blowing up and crashing into buildings. Why people are killing other people for millions
An observation like that would only be sound when taken out of the noisy context of media today.
In some way, it feels that the person who is watching something is encouraged to continue further and watch more in a
sort of complacent couch potato manner.
It is one thing to suggest a product useful to practical life but another to compell the consumer to remain fixed upon
fictional scenes upon the screen. Such things have always been the nature of the entertainment industry, and it would
seem draconian to intervene and try to regulate them.
On the same hand, the advertisement is sustained by the very act of watching a fictional show, as the audience
inevitably aspire to impersonate the actor or actress, striving to emulate the prestige or mannerism of the hero on the
screen. Whether it is a brand of sunglasses, a type of shoe, a certain dress-code, a hairstyle or tattoo or a pop song
playing in the background.
One brand that takes the forefront of fictional predominance is Apple. And fittingly so in such movies like Unfriended
where the entire film takes place on the iMac interface of a single user.
The Privacy Solution
These steps outline the solution to minimize the collection of user data:
Reset the TV back to factory defaults and carefully observe the agreement policy. Accept all the basic terms of
service but be sure to decline the collection of viewing data. This would officially affirm the unwillingness of the
user to part with their viewing history.
Turn off the ACR (Automatic Content Recognition). This is the service that recommends shows and movies for
the user and family but can be turned off. It is found in the settings of the device but may prove elusively buried
under layers of menu.
The final option. Disconnect the TV from the internet and connect another device directly. This solution
dampens the notion of a Smart TV and at any rate whatever service the person uses to access content probably
has their own means of gathering personal information.