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February 8, 2018

PRIVACY: Your smart TV may be prey for hackers and collecting more info than you realize, ‘Consumer Reports’ warns.

Consumer Reports just analyzed smart TVs from five big U.S. TV brands — Samsung, LG, Sony, TCL and Vizio — and found several problems. All can track what consumers watch, and two of the brands failed a basic security test.

How bad is the security? So poor, according to its report, that hackers were able to take over complete remote control of the TVs from Samsung and TCL’s branded Roku TV, which included changing channels, upping the volume, installing new apps and playing objectionable content from YouTube.

“What we found most disturbing about this was the relative simplicity of” hacking in, says Glenn Derene, Consumer Reports’ senior director of content.

The non-profit, which publishes a magazine and a website, partnered with a firm called Dissconnect to do the hack tests.

It was easy to break in, Derene said, because “basic security practices were not being followed.”

We own two smart TVs, because it’s impossible these days to buy something with a quality screen which isn’t “smart.” But neither one has any apps installed or is connected to the wifi, and both are used as dumb monitors for TiVo and Apple TV.

Even so, since both are wifi-equipped I have no idea what access third parties might be able to gain.