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Chromecast security tips: How to protect TV casting

Chromecast devices or built-in Chromecast functionality have introduced a seamless way of streaming. It turns old-school TVs into smart ones and enables you to cast content from smartphones on bigger screens. But can you always trust Chromecast to be secure and reliable? Can someone interrupt your casting or see it in secret? As you may know, internet communications can never be completely safe. So, let’s see how you can protect your Chromecast from harm.

Chromecast security tips: How to protect TV casting

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is Chromecast?

Chromecast is a seamless tech that casts content from mobile devices to TV screens or speakers. Essentially, you use a smartphone or laptop as a remote controller and handle the playback of content. You can use Chromecast as a plug-in device for a TV with an HDMI connector. You’ll need to download the Google Home app and follow the setup instructions to cast your desired content.

Nowadays, you can cast audio or video from nearly every website. Thanks to continuous updates and improvements for Chromecast, you can cast content of 4K quality.

For smart home owners, it’s also possible to cast security camera footage through Chromecast via Google TV. You don’t need external devices to make Chromecast work if you have an Android TV. You can choose the Chromecast option when you open video or audio content through Chrome browsers or Chrome-enabled apps.

How to use Chromecast

Chromecast is a Google product you can purchase if you don’t have Chromecast-enabled devices. Its appearance resembles that of streaming devices such as Fire TV Stick. It also plugs directly into TVs through the HDMI port.

Here are the basic instructions on how to use Chromecast:

  1. Plug the Chromecast device into your TV through an HDMI port.
  2. Select that HDMI input channel via TV settings.
  3. Install the Google Home application on your phone.
  4. Make sure both devices operate on the same Wi-Fi network.
  5. Complete the Chromecast setup and add new devices through the Google Home app.

If you own an Android or Google TV, you can cast content by pressing the Chromecast button on video or audio content.

How private is Chromecast?

It is convenient to control the content on your TV through a smartphone or laptop. However, Chromecast can pose particular security and privacy risks.

Google doesn’t have a sparkling-clean reputation when it comes to respecting users’ privacy. According to Google, the company gathers system activity, crash reports, and usage data. The latter can include information on how you use Chromecast and what content you cast.

However, Chromecast’s security and privacy don’t rely solely on Google’s maintenance of its products and services. You must also consider the sites and services from which you cast the content. Each such domain will have unique logging policies concerning user data. Thus, reviewing sites’ privacy policies before consuming or casting their content is recommended.

Also, it might be difficult to conceal your casting habits from people connected to the same Wi-Fi. After all, others can see currently active Chromecast activities.

How secure is Chromecast?

In 2019, a Chromecast security bug allowed hackers to hijack thousands of devices. The hack unfolded as the culprits showed a notice explaining that users’ misconfigured routers left their Chromecast open to attacks. The vulnerability could have allowed vicious people to interrupt media streams and cast anything they wanted.

Similar incidents of media interruptions exist to this day. Deauthentication attacks, making the Chromecast disconnect from Wi-Fi and controlling the connection, have also targeted casters.

Chromecast pranks of someone casting an annoying video on your TV can be benign. However, such interruptions can have malicious intentions and serious consequences.

Experts have warned that hackers could hijack Chromecast and make it play commands that voice assistants would pick up. It could become possible to initiate commands like “Turn off the house alarm” or “Unlock the door.”

Exploiting Chromecast to display offensive videos is much easier if you don’t adequately protect your Wi-Fi network. If you fail to prevent Wi-Fi piggybacking, someone (likely a neighbor) could connect to your network without permission, and anyone on the same network could interfere with Chromecasts.

Chromecast network security tips

If you want to protect your Chromecast, secure your home network. A secure network prevents most attempts to cast content on your TV without permission.

  1. Hide your Wi-Fi network’s name. Remove your SSID (network name) from being displayed among available networks. Then only people who know the exact name (and password) will be able to join the network.
  2. Set a strong password for your network. You will significantly improve Chromecast security if a lengthy password guards your network. It will make it more difficult or impossible for outsiders and freeloaders to guess the correct combination.
  3. Set appropriate encryption for your Wi-Fi. Most routers allow you to choose between different types of Wi-Fi security protocols. WPA2 and WPA3 are the most secure choices for your network. If you still use WEP or WPA, change it as soon as possible.
  4. Push unknown devices off your network. You can remove all connected devices by changing the password. Alternatively, you disconnect devices one by one on your router’s admin page (you’ll need your router’s IP address to access it).
  5. Disable guest mode. Guest mode lets others cast on your TV without connecting to the same network. Sometimes, it’s convenient, but you should turn it off when not in use.
  6. Install updates whenever necessary. Be sure to update your router, browsers, and apps whenever possible. Running the latest versions will prevent publicly known vulnerabilities from affecting you.
  7. Set up a VLAN. You can create a separate Virtual Local Area Network and isolate Chromecast from others in your home.
  8. Turn off UPnP. The Universal Plug and Play protocol has significant security flaws. If you don’t use port forwarding, deactivate UPnP.
  9. Adjust Google privacy settings. Review your account’s privacy settings to change what information Google receives about your Chromecast activities.
  10. Check what ports are open. Hackers tend to abuse open ports, so closing ports 8008, 8009, and 8443 can improve Chromecast security.
  11. Use a VPN. A Chromecast VPN can help to stay protected at all times when you’re enjoying your favorite content.