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Television Security Hardware

Android-Based Smart TVs Aren't That Smart When You Install Malware On Them (softpedia.com) 89

An anonymous reader writes: Smart TVs running older versions of the Android operating system are being infected with malware that was specifically built to target smart TVs. Infections occur via applications downloaded from a series of sites ran under the H.TV brand. These are websites that offer applications specifically built for Android smart TVs that allow users to watch TV channels from other regions of the globe. As usual, these apps are side-loaded from unofficial app stores. Fortunately, it's not a smart TV ransomware.
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Android-Based Smart TVs Aren't That Smart When You Install Malware On Them

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  • The best thing you can do with a "Smart TV" is dumb the fuck out of it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The best thing you can do with a "Smart TV" is dumb the fuck out of it.

      The best thing you can do with a "new" car you bought with all the bells and whistles is to not use any of them.

      The best thing you can do with a "fast" computer is to never put it online.

      Perhaps next time you could come forth with a technical solution beyond "dumb the fuck out of it", which only makes you look like a moron.

      Just a thought.

      • Re:That's a Plus (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @07:56PM (#51259409)

        Perhaps next time you could come forth with a technical solution beyond "dumb the fuck out of it", which only makes you look like a moron.

        There's actually a good reason for that without even getting into security issues: Odds are those "smart" features will be obsolete before your TV is, so instead of paying extra for "smart" features, it's probably better to pay less for an STB that you can replace every so often instead.

        Even if they don't go obsolete, chances are your TV manufacturer won't provide any feature additions as they come. If you want them, you'll have to buy next year's model, which is dumb.

        • Odds are those "smart" features will be obsolete before your TV is

          Even if they don't go obsolete, chances are your TV manufacturer won't provide any feature additions as they come. If you want them, you'll have to buy next year's model, which is dumb.

          That's the problem with buying anything "smart" -- phone, TV, car, whatever. The people making these things are only interested in being able to advertise lots of features. They don't give two shits about updating them, making them secure or even if they are useful at all.

      • Re:That's a Plus (Score:4, Informative)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @09:40PM (#51259789)

        The problem with smart TVs is that they get designed and build and sold and then the market changes and you're stuck with all these build in apps that are pointless. Whereas if you just get a really nice TV for a cheaper price then attach a Roku, Fire Stick, Chromecast, etc, then you can update that device and get new applications and technologies far more cheaply. Especially true with the first generation of smart TVs that were impossible or very difficult to upgrade or add new channels to. Another example, the smart TV might only do 802.11b, whereas most media players under $100 are much faster and more flexible.

        The bells and whistles in some cars become obsolete very quickly. Built in satellite radio service, for a service that became defunct before the auto was less than a year old... An iPhone connector but you decided to get an Android instead. Better for the auto to have some generic common or standardized connectors, then attach your own navigation system, radio system, media player, etc.

        • I have a Blu-Ray player that can stream video from Blockbuster.

          Yeah, glad they spent the engineering time on that.

        • The bells and whistles in some cars become obsolete very quickly. Built in satellite radio service, for a service that became defunct before the auto was less than a year old... An iPhone connector but you decided to get an Android instead. Better for the auto to have some generic common or standardized connectors, then attach your own navigation system, radio system, media player, etc.

          Surprisingly Satellite radio has remained unchanged for years.

          I've rarely seen an "iPhone connector", but I have seen a USB port which can be used for an iPhone, an Android, a flash drive, or just to charge.

          Most cars these days will do Aux in, and Bluetooth, which are "generic common or standardized"

          • But the big satellite provider went bankrupt I thought?

            • There use to be Sirius satellite radio, and XM satellite radio. Both flirted with bankruptcy. They combined to form Sirius XM, with identical programming, though there are two different satellite networks and protocols to broadcast this identical programming.

      • He was concerned that his comment might be a security risk, so he dumbed the fuck out of it to make it more secure.

      • I would like to know what I get out of a 'smart' TV for the extra cost and terrible interface provided, that I can't do better with a AppleTV / ChromeCast / Amazon FireTV stick, which can be swapped out as new technologies emerge.

        I'm very glad that I have a TV that I purchased right before the whole 'smart' TV thing started happening, which only tries to be a large display that accepts HDMI signals. That way, I don't have to have it exposed to a menagerie of flaws and failures due to firmware that is never

    • My so called smart tv can play files from Windows shared folders. What I wish is that VLC could play streams to it instead.

      • Does the TV have DLNA? I've got a Vizio that has it. No it's not that silly restricted Plex app that requires Plex Pass on some platforms. (though it's got that too)

        • I'm pretty sure the tv has DLNA. How do you make it connect to VLC?

          • You don't. Why connect your TV to VLC, when you can use DLNA to access any of the content the DLNA server is shared, not just what is playing in VLC. Including Music and Photos. Just use a DLNA server on the PC. Heck, some routers have built in DLNA servers, add external storage to the router and you're good to go.

            • I want to use VLC for its audio compression. I dislike how all movies have whisper quiet dialog while music and everything else is ear shattering. My compression settings are set to "brick wall" so nothing can ever be louder than my choosing. In fact what I'm planning on doing is feeding the optical out from the tv into a cheap 24/96 DAC, feeding that into a real studio compressor, then finally into a power amp. No more extra loud commercials and channels.

              • I dislike how all movies have whisper quiet dialog while music and everything else is ear shattering.

                That's because you're probably playing the 5.1 or 7.1 mix by default and the playback device isn't mixing it well.

                And optical? OPTICAL? Why aren't you using HDMI?

    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )
      Easy to do, don't connect it to a network.
      Plug in a Roku or similar device instead.
  • And this is news? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 )

    Android-Based Smart TVs Aren't That Smart When You Install Malware On Them

    I think this is obvious. Is there anyone who thinks otherwise? Anyway, why is this a headline on Slashdot? I sincerely just don't get it.

    • This is the third news story about this I've seen today ... two of them in the mainstream press.

      Maybe people are finally realizing the giant piles of crap their "smart" TVs are after they start getting malware or otherwise become obsolete and abandoned by the maker.

      That would be a good thing.

      • Then I hope folks start realizing that being able to hack something is no longer news.
        • No, but maybe just how damned insecure these things are, and just how much they're the embodiment of planned obsolescence, will finally start to sink in and people will demand better security and life cycle support.

          Instead of buying a half assed product which gets abandoned almost immediately and which has gaping security holes in it ... and being expected to just buy a new TV.

          A TV which has no smarts can't become obsolete or get hacked.

          No matter what my TV thinks, it gets HDMI inputs, and otherwise doesn't

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @07:00PM (#51259161)
    For a moment I was hoping the "malware" just removed the manufacturers cruddy adware/malware, transforming the device into an old-fashioned "dumb" just-works television.
    • For a moment I was hoping the "malware" just removed the manufacturers cruddy adware/malware, transforming the device into an old-fashioned "dumb" just-works television.

      You know, I bet there would be a market for a utility that took a "smart" TV and basically lobotomized back into a standard TV, incapable of being infested with malware. Have it lock out all the ridiculous garbage "features" that make it vulnerable and turn it into just a plain ol' TV with normal features.

      If I ever bought a smart TV I'd probably be willing to pay to have it dumbed down.

      • Or you could just not let it connect to the internet by not giving it WiFi pass codes or plugging it in. I have found that has solved the bulk of the problems with my Samsung. I have a PC connected anyway as a DVR so I can get the Netflix/Hulu/Amazon stuff anyway.
  • The smart thing.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @07:06PM (#51259179)
    ...is to get a commercial display. No smart IOT OS crap to get bloated, infected or ignored when the next 4k model comes out. Hook whatever inputs you want to it and have your intelligence there.

    Since I like Neweggs stance on patents, here is a non affiliate link to some examples: http://www.newegg.com/Commerci... [newegg.com]

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      ...is to get a commercial display. No smart IOT OS crap to get bloated, infected or ignored when the next 4k model comes out. Hook whatever inputs you want to it and have your intelligence there.

      Since I like Neweggs stance on patents, here is a non affiliate link to some examples: http://www.newegg.com/Commerci... [newegg.com]

      Interesting - so how do you switch inputs? I take it this requires a receiver or some other HDMI/etc input switcher with remote? They do cost a lot more - you can get an LED 4k 40" screen for like $300.

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        Most have multiple inputs and a remote. And of course an embedded processor for settings/decoding video, but no custom OS over top to be hacked or never updated. It's just a LCD. Many don't have tuners, so you would need an external tuner or HTPC with tuner for OTA broadcasts. For streaming just grab the latest chromecast/roku/apple tv whatever.
        • As an added bonus, many commercial displays have RS-232 on them as well, for being able to perform remote power management. This might be a feature that comes in handy to the old guard around Slashdot.

    • Tragically, in the category you linked:

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/... [newegg.com]

      • And a bunch of the others include fancy operating systems as well.

        • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
          I don 't control manufacturer decisions or neweggs catalog. I pointed in a direction where some examples could be found. Do your homework.
    • You can simply ignore all the "smarts" of your new smart TV and just use it as an ordinary TV. If your TV works well on the day you purchased it, there's no need to ever update the software again and risk any breaking changes or performance degradation. Who cares if your TV's OS is "ignored" if it continues to work fine?

      When I was going through the initial setup, my TV wanted to connect to the internet, get information about me, blah blah, and I just said "no". Fortunately, you can still do that. Anyone

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        Ignoring the software is unsafe. If it is like many IOT devices and contains unpatched vulnerabilities that grow over time, and hard coded backdoors, the device is still at risk and provides a foothold into the network it is attached to. If you can just choose not to connect to a network then that is fine, but how long do you think that option will stay for when they want to collect, mine and sell your viewing habits?
        • It may be unsafe if you're actually connected to the network. But if you're not using any of the "smarts" of the system, why in the world would your TV be connected in the first place? My smart TV just acts like a dumb TV, getting input from my peripheral devices, but has no access to the internet. It's near impossible for it to be hacked via an HDMI cable coming from my own hardware devices.

          And no, I don't see a near-term future where your TV must be connected to the internet because there are always go

          • The HDMI spec does support having an Ethernet connection over the cable. If you had a receiver that you used an Ethernet connection on, it could share that connection with the TV without you realizing.

            • Good point... that was introduced in the HDMI 1.4 spec, right? I think it's still a largely theoretical concern for right now, as I haven't really seen any support for this. I'd bet it's probably because it's just a lot more straightforward to put a wifi receiver and ethernet port on the TV for a direct connection if there's any desire to do so. Moreover, the type of consumer who would have the equipment to connect a receiver with this type of advanced feature would probably also have equipment that woul

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @07:26PM (#51259271) Journal
    After 3 years of using my High end Sony Smart TV for internet video streaming, I bought a Stream Box because the TV's software was never updated and some services like YouTube actually stopped functioning because of end of support for whatever streaming method the device was using.Someone really needs to explain to Executives at TV manufacturers than nobody goes out to Replace a TV just so the SmartTV functions can get updated. Not when one can go buy a stream Device for a fraction of the price and get updates and a much better interface and function.
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      We *have* a Samsung 4k "Smart" TV and we don't use any of the smarts - at all. What drives it is the XB One, or the Android TV Stick. I'm not even sure how to use the "smart" part. But it said "Smart" on the box...

      I have no doubt that the "smart" feature is something they added to make it more appealing in some way, but why?

      • I have no doubt that the "smart" feature is something they added to make it more appealing in some way, but why?

        What they meant is that it's "smart" enough to be vulnerable to malware attacks, instead of just blissfully ignoring them like a regular TV does.

        • Once you decide you don't need the "smart" features you disconnect it from the internet. That has solved my issues. I have a PC connected anyway.
      • They are hoping consumers/suckers will fall for the Android marketing model. New features are only available with the new model, not the one you've purchased. Including essential security.

        OpenElec (was XBMC) on a hacked Chrombox works well for me. Dumb TVs forever.

    • by Kartu ( 1490911 )

      Buying a Steam Box to... watch youtube videos etc, is one weird decision.
      Lack of updates is another puzzling reason, I have a bunch of TVs and even 5 year old C series Samsung keeps updating stuff (which is rather annoying).

      Not sure about new revisions, but most of the older Samsung TVs I touched ran Linux.
      There is a wonderful SamyGo project, which allows you to root and harness your TV (full shell access, SAMBA/NFS mounts, ui patches and even cardsharing clients)

  • Fortunately, it's not a smart TV ransomware.

    Well, thanks for telling us what it's not, but TFA doesn't actually confirm that, if anything it says it could be literally anything. Essentially this malware creates a system by with other malware can be downloaded and installed.

    So it could, actually, be ransomware. And, to be honest, I'm trying to think of malware that would be useful (to attackers) on expensive smart TVs except for ransomware. It can't exactly install keyloggers to grab your credit card num

  • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @08:29PM (#51259547)

    I've never understood why someone would want an integrated "smart TV". Things become obsolete, app makers switch to a new os/hardware config. If you have your smart device integrated into the TV there is no way to replace a relatively cheap system in an expensive one. Whereas if you have a separate smart device and it no longer supports the apps you want, breaks, or is infected with a virus you simply buy a new one (often quite cheaply) hook it up and you're off and running. Also from what I've seen separate smart TV device manufactures often have more stable, well supported software since they are dealing with a limited number devices instead of dozens of TV models. My Amazon Fire/Chromecast devices have required a simple restart less than a dozen times since I bought them 2 years ago. Someone I know who owns a 4k smart TV has had to factory reset their TV at least 3 times due to software bugs in the last year alone. Buying a TV with integrated smart capabilities is like buying a house with a fridge/washer/dryer permanently cemented into a wall.

  • You could cut out 2/3 of the title and be perfectly accurate

    "Smart TVs aren't smart." Full stop.

    They're the bastard children of TVs and Computers that do not accomplish either task as well as their dedicated parents.

  • .. may cause you to install malware.. Er.. Is this really an article?

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