Digital TVs and set top boxes vulnerable to viruses

Brian Turner

February 4, 2011

The latest generation of TVs and set-top boxes are at risk of virus infection unless manufacturers take steps to build in protection, says digital TV specialist, Ocean Blue Software (OBS).

The company, which has developed TV application software for many of the major manufacturers, says the majority of new TVs and set-top boxes that allow for connection to the Internet will be exposed to new forms of viruses never before associated with TVs and STBs.

“Almost any TV based product with a processor, enough memory and an Internet connection is at risk,” said Ken Helps, founder and CEO of OBS. “That describes today’s digital TVs. Previously, these devices could only receive new software updates ‘Over The Air (OTA)’ which was controlled entirely by the broadcasters.

“But now, most are connected to the web and have built-in web browsers. Owners can access any internet address and potentially download anything.”

Although every TV and set-top box is different most connected systems now use Linux and widely available software packages such as graphics engines and codecs.

Opening up Digital TV receivers to PC centric technologies means that anyone can author the content and with an increasing proliferation of Pay-Per-View services, personal details, such as credit card information, will be stored within TVs and set-top boxes.

Ocean Blue is developing Neptune software, a firewall for its DVB core, but warns this will provide only rudimentary protection. “TVs do not have sufficient power to run full Anti-Virus (AV) protection,” added Helps.

Ocean Blue has suggested that TV’s may need to link up to cloud-based applications to provide anti-virus and malware protection, in order to address processing issues.


Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. NiNja says:

    WAIT the boxes are running linux? They should be fine.
    IF it was running Windows i could understand the ease of compromising the box.

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