Got a smart TV? Watch out for ransomware

If you’ve got a smart TV, beware: it’s another target for ransomware hackers. Infosecurity reports that your TV may be the next hit on the cyber attack trail. According to the report, Android’s Frantic Locker, or FLocker for short, detected as ANDROIDOS_FLOCKER.A, is making its way into your entertainment device. This 13-month-old piece of ransomware has mutated into more than 7,000 variants, with its creator consistently making adjustments to the software to avoid detection. The latest version locks TV screens under the guise of being the “US Cyber Police” (or similar, as the variant that may hit your smart TV–and it hopefully won’t–could have another lockscreen display).

Here’s the thing: ransomware is constantly morphing. Those greedy bastard hacker types know that they need to stay under the radar. Like a virus or a plague, as soon as we get ahead of it, there’s a newer strain somewhere else that security experts need to wrap their minds around.

 

ransomware-illustration

Worse, ransomware targets software that has widespread appeal. Remember 10-15 years ago when Macs had little viruses to speak for? As they grew in appeal, so did the appeal of malware and viruses to hackers, crackers, and the like. Today, Android is one of those growing targets–and yes, your smart TV is likely powered by Android.

While you may be a Mac fanboy and we won’t hate on you for liking Apple, let’s assess your household for a moment: how many Android OS devices do you think you have? Seriously, scan your home network — you will be surprised. Most of your smart devices with an IP address likely have some form of Android installed as the software’s infrastructure. That’s ripe grounds for ransomware to harvest–well, in time anyway.

So, can you remove the FLocker from your smart TV? Yes. But be forewarned: you’d need to brush up on your command line and shell scripting skills. Naturally, you’d also need to learn how to boot into the command line. TrendMicro provides additional detail about the structure of the malware, but the general gist is that you’d have to turn on ADB debugging, launch a shell, and then execute pm clear %pkg% where %pkg% refers to the malware name. From there, the process dies and users will be able to deactivate the administrative access from that application and then uninstall the app.

But in the event that you are too afraid to take to the shell, your Android TV vendor may have a solution. It’s worth giving them a call if you want to leave the hacking to PCs and give control over your TV to a manufacturer who already has the know-how.

With the growing rate of ransomware and the threat of your TV being hacked looming, perhaps it’s a good time to catch up on your recorded Game of Thrones episodes before you lose access to Jon Snow for a second time.

(On a side note, if you’re a streaming media service with the ability to have your content played anywhere, isn’t there a little smile on your face?)

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