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Smart TVs Represent a Massive and Vulnerable Attack Surface

11/06/2014 by


As connected TVs become mainstream, a flaw in the HbbTV standard threatens widespread chaos.

Connected TVs are rapidly becoming popular devices inside the homes across mature consumer electronics markets and, as with anything else that’s exposed to the internet, it is poised to become a ripe attack vector for cybercriminals. The latest is a proof-of-concept “red button” attack that exploits a loophole in the Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) standard, popular across Europe for smart TVs.

HbbTV allows broadcast streams to include embedded HTML content that is rendered by the television, for uses like targeted, personalized advertising and blended, interactive content that marries normal linear video feeds and content from the web. In addition to its very wide deployment in Europe (60 broadcasters already use it there), HbbTV has recently been adopted as part of the American digital television standard.

According to a report from Yossef Oren and Angelos Keromytis from the Network Security Lab at Columbia University, attackers can use a weakness in the standard and a cheap antenna to hijack smart TVs via radio signals, and from there perform a variety of nefarious tasks. For instance, they can interact with any website, even using credentials stored in the TV sets for accessing services such as social networks, webmail or e-commerce sites.

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