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How To Tell If Your Smart TV Has Been Hacked?

How To Tell If Your Smart TV Has Been Hacked?

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It seems like smart TVs are one of the hottest tech trends right now, with people ditching their old “dumb” TVs for a new, high-tech model.

While smart TVs have lots of advantages, they also have one significant disadvantage: they can be hacked. In fact, hackers have recently been targeting smart TV owners, especially since few people know that they need to take measures to protect their TV’s cybersecurity.

You’ve been noticing some unusual activity on your smart TV, and you’ve started wondering: has it been hacked? And if it has, how can you tell?

Keep reading to find out!

1. Your TV Has a Fake Off Mode

Normally, when you turn your TV off all of its functions should shut down, placing it in standby mode.

However, the CIA and British intelligence allegedly installed a hack into Samsung TVs in 2012 and 2013.

This hack is called the Weeping Angel and is thought to be named after the infamous Doctor Who characters who look like statues, but will attack you as soon as you’ve turned your back. If you’re a Doctor Who fan like me, you know that this is one of the deadliest species in the Whoniverse (Doctor Who universe).

When installed, this hack turns off your TV’s backlights, making the TV appear off. In reality, your TV is still functioning, giving the hackers access to your TV’s microphone and camera.

a TV is controlled by hackers

The hackers can then record videos and audio of the smart TV’s unsuspecting owner, catching them in humiliating positions and collecting confidential data.

If the smart TV owner is of interest to the state, this data could be used to collect evidence against them.

However, this hack is also used to attack regular civilians. If the hackers record anything particularly embarrassing, they will then send it to you and demand ransom for them not to release it.

It should come as no surprise that women are often the victims of these crimes. In some cases, these pictures and videos may even be uploaded to adult-only websites where the hacker can charge others to watch them.

A good way to know if someone has installed the Weeping Angel hack on your TV is to check if its power LED indicator light remains blue even when the TV is “off.” If it does, then your TV may have been hacked and it’s a good idea to cover your cameras and take the appropriate cybersecurity measures.

2. The TV Is Seemingly Functioning By Itself

Your TV should only respond to your commands, but lately, it seems to have a mind of its own. The volume may suddenly raise or lower while you’re watching a movie, even though you haven’t even touched the remote.

One Reddit user shared their experience of this happening, as the TV was responding to the hacker’s commands before the hacker eventually made themselves known by saying their name and laughing.

In addition to your TV’s volume changing, you may also notice that the settings are randomly changing or see the microphone or camera icons popping up out of nowhere.

microphone icon pops up on a TV screen

Since these icons only appear when in use, this is a good indication that a hacker has taken control of your TV and is listening to or watching you through its microphone or camera.

If the hacker does happen to make themselves known by speaking to you, immediately unplug your TV from power since the hacker cannot access your TV when it’s not connected to power.

Then, consult a cybersecurity technician for the next steps.

3. New Apps and Files Appear Out of Nowhere

You’re browsing your smart TV home screen when you see an unfamiliar app. You know you didn’t install it, so how did it get there?

Then, you head to your TV’s file manager and find several video and audio files that you’re certain you didn’t download.

man sees strange files on his TV

What is happening?

New apps and files appearing out of nowhere on your smart TV is a sign that your TV may have been hacked.

Hackers will install malicious apps or malware onto your device, granting them access to your data. This malware may also cause your TV to glitch or lag.

They may also record video and audio of you. These recordings may appear in your file manager. So, clicking on them could very well produce videos of you going about your daily life in the privacy of your own home.

That said, you should avoid opening any unknown files you find, as they could contain malware.

4. Unusual App Activity

You’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones in your life, but your HBO Max app shows you’ve been binge-watching it. You ask your partner and they confirm they also haven’t been watching it.

It’s not uncommon for hackers to hack smart TVs so that they can use your account to watch certain shows. In some cases, the hackers may even sell your account information to people who want to watch subscription-based platforms without paying the monthly fee.

a girl see strange movies on her TV

Additionally, some smart TV models monitor each app’s usage, recording when you’ve used them and for how long.

Heading to these settings will reveal if someone else has been actively using your smart TV’s apps. You may notice that some apps you never use have unusually high usage times. You may also see some apps you don’t recognize and didn’t install yourself.

If this is the case, then your smart TV has probably been hacked.

5. You’ve Been Locked Out of Your Accounts

You open your smart TV’s Netflix app only to be confronted with the login page. Confused, you enter your login details but are met with an error message.

hand holding a remote towards a TV with Netflix logo on

Hackers frequently lock people out of their accounts once they’ve been hacked, changing the password and possibly even the email.

This allows them to take full control of your account and stops you from changing the password or closing your account. Now, they can find and use your credit card details, and even offer to sell your account back to you.

If you’re using a popular streaming app, we recommend contacting their customer service and informing them you’ve been hacked. Explain the situation and ask what they can do to help recover your account.

You may have to close the account entirely and open a new one.

It’s also a good idea to check your bank transactions if you’re worried that the hacker may be committing credit card fraud.

Remember, if the hacker has gained access to your accounts on one of your smart TV apps, they may have gained access to the other apps’ accounts as well. So, change your passwords and do a security sweep to ensure the hacker cannot access any more of your information, and your TV’s camera and microphone.

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