Samsung has a long-running relationship with McAfee. And while it’s bad enough that it bundles this nigh-useless junk on its computers, it’s “extending” this partnership to the S10 and all 2019 Smart TVs.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Samsung throw McAfee on Galaxy smartphones, as it shipped the S8 with the antivirus app installed too. Then Samsung later brought it to previous Galaxy devices with an update, which is honestly just disgusting.
Make no mistake here: McAfee is paying Samsung a pile of cash to do this, which is a pretty common practice for all PC makers. It lets McAfee extend its presence, especially for less-savvy users who honestly don’t know that antivirus apps on Android are nearly useless. Just like with bundled antivirus software on computers, you simply don’t need it. (For Windows machines, Microsoft’s Windows Defender does a great job, and it’s integrated).
But here’s where things are really starting to get out of hand: as of 2019, Samsung will include McAfee on its smart TVs. Straight from the PR:
McAfee extended its contract to have McAfee Security for TV technology pre-installed on all Samsung Smart TVs produced in 2019. Along with being the market leader in the Smart TV category worldwide, Samsung is also the first company to pre-install security on these devices, underscoring its commitment to building security in from the start. McAfee Security for TV scans the apps that run on Samsung smart TVs to identify and remove malware.
Samsung is “the first company to pre-install security on these devices” for good reason: you don’t need it. First off, Samsung’s Smart TVs run its own Tizen OS (which is based on Linux) for which malware is virtually non-existent. So, right out of the gate, it’s inherently a non-issue.
Secondly, the same rule applies to smart TVs that apply to Android, which is basically to be smart about what you install. If you don’t know what it is, then don’t install it. If it’s not from the TV’s official store, don’t install it. Don’t sideload random stuff. Just, you know, use common sense.
While there are documented cases of Android-based smart TVs getting infected with ransomware, installing apps from unofficial stores or websites is nearly always the culprit. So if you don’t do that, then you should be fine. And again, Samsung TVs don’t run Android—they run Tizen.
Don’t get it twisted here, we’re not suggesting that smart TVs are even remotely “secure”—these always-connected devices are undoubtedly going to become bigger targets for attackers as time goes on and manufacturers haven’t historically done the most to keep them safe. Certain models are still vulnerable to man in the middle attacks (which would require an attacker to be on the same Wi-Fi network), but that’s not something an antivirus is going to prevent in the first place.
But seriously, an antivirus on a TV? Give me a break. 🙄