Millions of smart TVs sitting in family living rooms are vulnerable to hackers taking control — and could be tracking the household's personal viewing habits much more closely than their owners realize, according to a new Consumer Reports investigation.
The non-profit consumer product testing organization examined five of the top smart TVs on the market and found that in several of them, "a relatively unsophisticated hacker" could conduct remote hijinks like cranking the volume to a roar, knocking the TV off the Wi-Fi network, quickly changing channels or forcing it to play objectionable YouTube content.
The vulnerability was found in sets by Samsung, TCL, and devices using the Roku TV platform, which can include brands like Philips, RCA, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, and Sharp, along with some of Roku's own streaming players.
In a statement on their blog, Roku said that Consumer Reports's story was "a mischaracterization of a feature" and "there is no security risk." The company said users could turn off the remote control function by navigating to "settings," then "system," then "advanced system settings," then switching "external control" to "disabled."