Many companies predict that in 2016 the main threat will be ransomware programs that can infect not only PCs but also mobile gadgets. After all, all of the modern appliances are able to connect to the Internet. As proof of this theory expert from Symantec Candid Wueest demonstrated that modern smart TVs can also be hacked.
The researcher did not disclose the model and the manufacturer of the TV that he made his experiment. However, Wueest said that his TV was working on modified version of Android operating system, which is not uncommon these days. Smart TVs often running Tizen, WebOS 2.0, Firefox OS or Android TV.
The expert says that there are various ways how to infect TV with ransomware program. The easiest option is to manually connect USB drive to the appropriate port on the TV. Also, the victim may accidentally download malicious software from an official app store. To do this, hackers can use a few tricks. Hackers can perform man-in-the-middle attack. If the hacker is in the same network as the victim it will be very easy. If not, it is possible to perform this attack by stealing the Wi-Fi password of the victim, or by spoofing DNS queries. Moreover, not all connections, which are set by TV, are protected by SSL certificate. If SSL is working, the device is often checking certificates very superficial, in particular, allowing the use of self-signed certificates, which can be easily faked.
By performing man-in-the-middle attack, hackers can silently capture network traffic between the TV and the server and therefore will be able to replace a request to download a legitimate application, redirecting it to their own server. In short, the scheme is quite the same as with other devices.
Why do hackers need infected TV? With the same purpose for which they need infected PCs, smartphones and so on. TV could become a part of botnet, it can be used for mining cryptocurrency, clicking advertisings, stealing data, for example, if Google Play account is connected to the SmartTV hackers may demand some ransom.
So, Candid Wueest was able to infect the TV with ransomware. He discovered that presented in his system gaming portal through which you can download and install the game, generally is not protected by any encryption certificate. The expert performed man in the middle attack and disguised malware as a new simulator and installed it on the TV.
For this experiment Wueest took some popular ransomware, which name he didn’t disclose. As expected, the experiment was successful. Malicious application was installed on the TV and demanded a ransom, the entire screen was showing a message with demands. TV has become impossible to use for other purposes.
To protect yourself against such attacks, Wuuest recommends for users of smart TVs to be more cautious. Nowadays, TVs are as vulnerable to hackers attacks as other mobile devices. Users should avoid installing suspicious applications and run them. If possible, always use program verification. The expert recommends to disable unused functions of the TV and use secure, well-configured Wi-Fi with encryption not lower than WPA2 , or even better – use a wired connection to the Internet.