The Red Button Attack: are Smart TVs dangerous?!?

An article in last week’s Forbes concerning research by Yossi Oren and Angelos Keromytis at the Columbia University Network Security Lab suggests that the average connected TV could be an unknowing weakest link in a home’s security against hackers.

“People are sitting at home at night watching TV,” Oren told Forbes, “and suddenly outside their window something starts flying up in their air, okay, what is this thing? It’s a drone. And as they’re peacefully watching their TV, very strange things start happening – they start sending reviews to Yelp without their knowing, they start sending spam to their friends, their printer starts printing coupons for sites they never signed on to. All sorts of craziness is happening, and twelve minutes later, it stops, and nobody knows who did this.”

Apparently the HbbTV standards body in December rejected this scenario as not cost-effective enough for the prospective hackers to bother, though the researchers have in turn retorted that a hacker with a meagre 1-watt amplifier could assault an entire 1.4 square kilometre area of a city affecting up to as many as 70,000 people in some urban areas. (Which certainly sounds a lot more straightforward than getting hold of a drone!)

“You basically need $200 and a roof,” Oren went on. “There’s a $200 device that’s about the size of a smart phone, you plug it in to your computer on the one side, antenna on the other side. There are open tool sources, but anybody who can write programming for a normal television channel can launch these attacks… and for this attack you don’t need an IP address, you don’t need a server, you only need a roof and an antenna, and once you’re done with your attack, there’s no trace of you.”

Read the article here.

Later this month sees the first annual Internet of Things World  (June 17th – 18th 2014 Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, USA), the only independent business event dedicated to IoT anywhere in the world. For booking and more info go here.


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