Next big security risk for home users: Internet connected TV

Every device between the TV cable and your laptop is hackable

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Nielsen estimates 60 percent of TV watchers check their email at the same time, using tablets or laptops and, increasingly, use voting systems or other interactive features on their favorite TV shows by downloading "The X Factor" app to their iPad or going to the site on their laptop during the show.

In December, 2010, security vendor Mocana published a study showing Internet-connected TVs could expose consumers and the companies they work with – credit cards, service providers, banks – to hackers able to push through the negligible security built into Internet TVs and set-top boxes.

The report wasn't theoretical, or a survey of the unrealistic fears of security wonks.

It was prompted by an HDTV manufacturer that asked Mocana to audit security on its boxes and show where the holes existed. The unnamed vendor is one of a very few to have made any effort at all to close off TVs as a potential hacking risk.

Digital TVs: Smart enough to be hacked, too stupid to prevent it

Digital, high-def, flatscreen TVs are computers, Grimes points out. Or at least they have computer-like things wired to their insides (which is how Mac users used to describe PCs, btw).

If they also have an Ethernet port, what you did by connecting it was not simply make it simpler to put Netflix on your main boob tube. You've connected a special-function, kind of stupid computer directly to the Internet, with no firewall and no antivirus software to protect it and precious little you can do to add your own.

In fact, making your TV hackable doesn’t even require that it have an Ethernet port. Connecting it through a media gateway, videogame console, DVD player or other device hangs your TV out there on the Internet, too.

In even more unpleasant fact, just plugging in to the set-top box could give hackers a shot at your set.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters

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