How secure is your Smart TV system? Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku


How secure is your smart TV system?

Best answer: Smart TVs aren’t suspected of the same types of online attacks as our phones or computers, but manufacturers are still trying to make them as secure as possible. The biggest potential problem would be an attacker gaining access to your Wi-Fi network.

A decoder is always the best option

NVIDIA Shield TV and Shield TV Pro standing upright

(Image credit: Phil Nickinson/Cordcutters)

Buying a smart TV has some advantages. It’s all self-contained, meaning there are no cords or cables to buy, and space is often at a premium when watching our movies and shows.

One place they don’t have an edge, however, is when it comes to security and privacy.

Nothing smart is private, including your TV. If you want to be 100% secure and 100% private about how you use your TV, you’ll need to use an antenna and make sure nothing in your entertainment center is connected to internet.

But set-top boxes have a big advantage when it comes to updates. They usually get them more frequently than sets with built-in smart services, and a big part of any update is security-focused.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max with Alexa Voice Remote leaning on the desktop

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick/Android Central)

I’m not saying your new set with Amazon’s built-in FireTV or Google TV isn’t getting updates or ever will. I’m saying that companies that make standalone boxes have always been quicker to respond. If you’re looking for a recommendation for the best smart TV box, I’d point you to the Nvidia Shield TV and its amazing track record of updates.

Nor is one ecosystem better than the others when it comes to user privacy. Google, Apple, Amazon, Roku, Samsung, and any other company you can think of that makes smart sets keeps track of how you use them. The same goes for apps installed on those platforms, as does your cable provider if you still watch cable TV. In the 21st century, it is impossible to be online and not be followed one way or another.

Security helps keep your private data private, but it’s not the same thing.

However, privacy is not security. That’s a godsend when it comes to smart TVs – the personal data they hold isn’t usually big enough for anyone else to want.

You probably aren’t banking on your TV, texting, or working from home on sensitive equipment. You probably could, since many apps can be forced to run on a big screen, but it’s not as simple or elegant as using your phone or a computer. If you use your smart TV for personal and confidential matters, be aware that it is much more risky.

Roku update screen

(Image credit: Android Central)

That means TVs aren’t as big of a target as smartphones or laptops. Imagine spending time and effort hacking into my TV only to find out I’m a fan of Naked and Afraid (opens in a new tab). It’s hardly worth it.

The biggest security threat is that an attacker could gain access to other devices on your home network if they were able to break into your TV. This is a serious concern and a reason why we should want our sets to be as safe as possible.

The best way to do this is to accept or check for software updates regularly. Every popular platform has a mechanism to manually check for an update, and they’ll all update automatically at a scheduled time when one is available if you can’t be bothered.

In conclusion, it’s safe to say that smart TVs aren’t really secure because nothing connected to the internet is really secure. But they are all Most likely secure enough as they are not a big target for bad guys. Still.


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