You may have woken up this morning to a flood of stories talking about how your Roku Player and Roku TV can be hacked! The truth is NO your TV cannot be easily hacked but a flood of stories would make you think it could happen.
According to Roku “Consumer Reports issued a report saying that Roku TVs and players are vulnerable to hacking. This is a mischaracterization of a feature. It is unfortunate that the feature was reported in this way. We want to assure our customers that there is no security risk.” So is there a reason to worry? Lets take a look at what Consumers Reports and Roku have to say.
The first major claim by Consumer Reports is that Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) can be used to easily take over a TV. What is Automatic Content Recognition? Well in short ACR allows your TV to see what you are watching and recommend content to you. Roku uses this to let owners of their Roku TVs use More Ways to Watch a system that pops up and will let you find similar shows or show you how to watch the next episode of the show streaming on Hulu for example.
According to Consumer reports ACR could be used to push you ads for other shows and movies but as Roku says that is the reason behind ACR. Not only is that why ACR was made it is an opt-in feature you have to manually enable to use. So yes ACR will show you recommendations for more ways to watch a show you are currently using, but that is what the feature is designed to do.
According to Roku “More Ways to Watch, which uses ACR, is not enabled by default on Roku TVs. Consumers must activate it. And if they choose to use the feature it can be disabled at any time. To disable consumers have to uncheck Settings > Privacy > Smart TV experience > Use info from TV inputs.” So if you are worried hackers may someday find some way to take advantage of this you can easily turn it off if you had opted in to use it.
The other way Consumer Reports says your Roku TV can be hacked is through the External Control option. According to Consumer Reports they 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. How could they do this? Well by using the Roku App’s remote control feature on Android or iOS. This feature lets anyone on the same WiFi network use their phone or tablet as a remote for their TV.
According to Roku “There is no security risk to our customers’ accounts or the Roku platform with the use of this API.” Yet if you are still worried Roku says “In addition, consumers can turn off this feature on their Roku player or Roku TV by going to Settings>System>Advanced System Settings>External Control>Disabled.”
So in short no your TV is not easily hacked these features are built into your Roku TV have to be turned on and all can be easily turned off. To “hack” your Roku or Roku TV someone would need to know your WiFi network password and be physically close enough to connect to your WiFi network. So we as always suggest using strong passwords on your WiFi network.
Roku ended their rebuttal by saying ““Roku takes security very seriously. There is no security risk to our customers’ accounts or to the Roku platform as stated by Consumer Reports.”
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