That’s bad news, because if the good guys have figured out how to do it, the bad guys probably have too. The worst part? Symantec’s Candid Wueest says it really wasn’t all that hard to do, either.
Smart TVs, Wueest points out, generally run one of four operating systems: Android/Android TV, Web OS 2.0, Firefox OS, or Tizen. If that’s true for your TV, there’s a very good chance that a vulnerability that affects the stock OS affects your set, too.
That opens the door for an attack. Wueest’s TV shipped with a pre-installed games portal, and he was able to determine that communications between the TV and the portal weren’t encrypted. By monitoring activity, he was able to intercept an app install request and swap the expected game for his malicious payload.
The success of the attack hinges on whether or not the user can be fooled into installing the Trojanized app. That’s generally not a major barrier for malware these days, though. Users have become so accustomed to clicking through installation screens that they’ll often blindly accept whatever is put in front of them.
More savvy users might suspect something’s awry, but remember that it was a connection to a first-party app store that Wueest exploited. We’d prefer to think that the app repositories that manufacturers have set up for us to use are minimizing the risks we face. Clearly that’s not the case.