It’s probably one of the most popular technological inventions of the 21st century. We all have at least one in our home. Smart TV manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, TCL, Philips, Toshiba, and Sharp have done a great job in the past decade to amaze us with picture quality, sharpness, and color richness.
But we don’t just use Smart TVs for the breathtaking visual experience. In fact, they are called “smart” for a completely different reason: they’re connected to the internet.
Prying eyes like your government, your ISP, and cybercriminals can hack and access any device that is online.
As you may know already, prying eyes like your government, your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and cybercriminals (hackers) can hack and access any device that is online. This also includes retrieving personal information, such as your physical location and what you do online. In other words, having a Smart TV is not all a bed of roses – these roses have thorns too.
This isn’t what you want if you understand the basics of privacy and why it’s crucial to protect yourself online.
Keep in mind that an unsecured internet connection your Smart TV uses is always vulnerable to cyber attacks. There’s a number of ways how you can protect your privacy though.
For example, you can install or manually configure a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to secure your Smart TV internet connection.
Come join us along as we uncover possible Smart TV security issues and how you can protect yourself against them in more detail. Let’s dive in.
Smart TV security issues
Many internet users may live in a dream world thinking that only the corporate world can be hit hard by cyber attacks. Therefore, these users may be totally careless while using their laptop, mobile phone, or Smart TV. However, not being cautious about possible cyber threats could cost you dearly.
Every year hundreds of millions of people are affected by such data leaks.
Let’s say you may not become a victim of a direct cyber attack out of sheer luck. Have you given it a thought that when a giant like Facebook, Google, Marriott, Yahoo, or Sony leaks user data, that might include your personal information? Every year hundreds of millions of people are affected by such data leaks. Possibly the worst case is when banking details and email account credentials are hacked and shared online.
Innocent as they may seem, we believe – or rather, know for a fact – that Smart TVs present serious privacy and security issues.
While many people may simply use a Smart TV for watching TV channels or maybe accessing streaming platforms like Netflix, many also use it for social networking, video calling, and accessing all kinds of other online services.
Some Smart TVs have a built-in webcam and mic, or you can connect one via USB for your greatest convenience: to enable video chats as well as gesture or voice commands. However, this comfort may come with a price tag – your privacy.
The bad news is that Smart TVs, similarly to all other online devices, can be accessed remotely without your knowledge. It’s pretty easy to do the math on what might come out of such unauthorized access. But let us make it crystal clear.
How your TV can be attacked
Thinking of the possible privacy and security issues regarding a Smart TV is almost like being in a sci-fi thriller. What you may think is just fiction and can only happen in a movie becomes all too real and palpable.
Here’s what you might be exposed to:
- Remote control over your TV.
- Spying on you via the Smart TV webcam and mic.
- Ransomware attacks to lock your TV until you pay up the ransom fee.
- Theft of sensitive information, including account credentials.
- Accessing data on connected devices like flash drives, laptops, and mobile phones.
Would any of the above make you feel like your privacy has been breached? So what can you do to prevent such security issues?
How to prevent Smart TV privacy breaches
First and foremost, you need a decent VPN service installed on your Smart TV to protect your anonymity. But even a VPN won’t save you from the so-called human factor. Therefore, we also advise you the following to “watch your six:”
- Whenever you’re not watching or using your Smart TV, switch it off. Better yet, unplug it from the socket.
- Be cautious when you’re installing a new app. Only do so from trustworthy sources. Keep in mind that even online stores may offer potentially harmful apps until they are reported and blocked. Do your research before installing anything on your Smart TV to make sure it’s safe.
- If you connect an external device to your Smart TV, it has to be one that’s free of malware. Otherwise, you could easily infect your TV and thus provide access to malicious third parties.
- Reduce your online activities via your Smart TV. Don’t overuse it to live your virtual life through one single online device. Or else, this could lead to severe data leaks and security issues.
VPN – a smart solution for Smart TV
Truth be told, the advantage of using a VPN for your Smart TV is twofold. Not only will your internet traffic be encrypted and thus private, but also, you’ll be able to unblock geo-restricted streaming platforms. Did you know that 30% of VPN users stream Netflix, for example?
A VPN app creates an encrypted tunnel between you and your destination on the web. If you’re using a true no logs VPN that doesn’t leak anywhere, nobody can retrieve any useful data regarding what you’re doing online. What’s more, no one can identify you and find out your physical location.
But, as we mentioned, a VPN service doesn’t just protect your privacy online. It’ll also enable you to access geo-blocked content from YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video to mention a few major streaming services.
It’s relatively easy to set up a VPN if your Smart TV is Android-based. If not, you’ll need a bit more technical knowledge to manually configure your VPN connection.
5 best VPNs for Smart TV
There are several criteria when choosing a VPN for Smart TV protection. First of all, it has to support Smart TVs. Then, it needs to be fast enough to handle lag and buffering-free streaming. Therefore, you may be better off with a VPN that has a decent global server fleet. To protect your privacy, your chosen VPN has to be a strict no-logs policy service without any leaks (DNS, IP, and WebRTC).
It’s also important that the VPN needs to have great live chat support. And, finally, the most essential criterion, your VPN has to be able to unblock the most popular streaming centers. Of course, you can add to this list another crucial angle, reasonable pricing.
We’re here to help you with our 5 best VPNs for Smart TV picks. Let’s see which providers made our list.
Top-notch security, relatively good speeds, 5,700+ servers in 60 countries, great features and platform support, excellent 24/7 live chat support, and successful unblocker – what else do you need? No wonder why NordVPN is our top pick this time. Even if the first two positions are usually neck and neck; well, figuratively speaking.
This VPN isn’t just good for unblocking Netflix, you can also use it to stream HBO, Hulu, Kodi, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and more. Watch all the top catalogs from anywhere in the world. The best thing is that you can try out NordVPN for free using the 30-day money-back guarantee option if you’re not satisfied.
Read our full NordVPN review
The other VPN industry leader and all-around champion, ExpressVPN also has all it takes to be a great choice for Smart TV. To be frank, ExpressVPN may be somewhat faster in general than Nord. However, it’s also more expensive and has less than half the server fleet when compared to our Numero Uno pick.
That said, ExpressVPN is a great streaming site unblocker with market-leading online privacy and security features. Similarly to its main rival, you can use this VPN to access several streaming centers, including Netflix, HBO Go, NBC, Comedy Central, Hulu, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Kodi, and BBC iPlayer. Home entertainment at its best, that’s what you’ll get.
One of the few drawbacks of ExpressVPN though is that there’s no free trial option. Again, you can apply for a refund using the 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to give this premium VPN service a shot.
#3 Ivacy VPN
Ivacy VPN is yet another competitor from our general top 10 VPN ranking list. It’s a privacy-friendly VPN with 1,000+ servers in 50+ countries. It has fast speeds for streaming Netflix or any other streaming center it can unblock. As a matter of fact, Ivacy VPN just won a prestigious VPN award for being the fastest. All its features considered, Ivacy VPN has a generous price for its value. No doubt why they won the Best Value award too.
Ivacy may have fewer features than our first two picks, but it’s certainly a good VPN solution for Smart TVs. Now, it also comes with a 7-day free trial.
Read our full Ivacy VPN review
This provider has “mysteriously” good speeds compared to its small VPN server fleet. In fact, PrivateVPN has one of the lowest numbers of servers, which is around 150+ at the time of writing. On the positive side, we can say that these servers are well-spread globally in 60+ countries.
PrivateVPN also has all the main security and privacy features you need to secure your Smart TV. In addition to that, this VPN is also a good choice for streaming Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Kodi, and Amazon Prime Video among others. You may not always get enough speed for 4K (UHD) quality, but you can surely enjoy HD video streaming.
If you wonder how PrivateVPN performs in your location, you’ll find the 7-day free trial a relief. This VPN also has one of the cheapest plans on the market.
Another no logs privacy flag-bearer that also owns and manages its 700+ servers in 70+ locations around the globe for better privacy and speeds. VyprVPN is also a well-equipped VPN; it even has its own proprietary protocol called Chameleon. This protocol was designed to prevent blocking and throttling efforts.
VyprVPN can unblock most of the popular streaming centers, such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. In this sense, all these 5 VPNs in the list can offer a similar variety of catalogs for the fans of TV shows and movies.
On the downside, VyprVPN is a bit pricey for its value. Still, this VPN can also be a good option since it may well work the best for you.
Smart DNS proxy – the streaming alternative
Smart DNS or SmartDNS is a technology you can use as an alternative to VPN services to access geo-blocked websites or streaming centers. In essence, your default DNS (assigned by your ISP) is replaced to spoof your geographical location.
Smart DNS proxies grant you the fastest possible streaming speeds. It’s also very simple to set up on any streaming device. However, bear in mind that using this technology will not hide your IP address or encrypt your internet traffic. Thus, there’s no security and privacy angle to it.
In plain English, if you’re looking for Smart TV security, there’s no doubt you should go for one of our 5 best VPNs for Smart TV picks.
But, at the end of the day, it’s all up to you. Privacy or “pry-vacy,” that is the question.