Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Smart TVs under threat from ransomware

If your TV runs Android, it might soon become a target for scammers keen on making money out of you just wanting to watch the news or sports.

Bad news for TV owners with the so-called “smart TVs” out in the world, as a form of ransomware has begun targeting televisions.

For those unaware, “ransomware” is a security exploit and form of malware that specifically locks down files on a device in exchange for a ransom, with the idea that once paid, the malware will decrypt those files for you and give your some peace of mind back.

This doesn’t always work, however, and increasingly security experts are suggesting to back up often and delete the ransomware if it does strike. Better, installing a form of up-to-date internet security should keep malware like the various and many ransomware strains at bay, protecting you from this exploit as well as many others out there.

Most experts will tell you that it’s a good idea to have an internet security solution on your computer, and the platform is really irrelevant: Mac or PC, you need security on your device.

But what about your TV?

Turns out, you need it there too.

According to researchers at Symantec — makers of Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security — “Frantic Locker” or “FLocker” is a recent strain of ransomware capable of attacking TVs running the Android operating system, which could include the likes of models sold by TCL and Sony, among others.

Symantec’s researchers say that while the current version of the FLocker ransomware won’t encrypt files on the TV like a conventional form of malware, “it does lock the screen, preventing the user access to the TV”, adding that it also “has the potential to steal data from the device”.

The ransom for this file is said to be “$200 US in iTunes gift cards”, with a screen displaying on the TV suggesting the lockdown has happened thanks to fake law enforcement agencies of the U.S. Cyber Police and the Japanese Ministry of Justice.

Regardless of the notification being fake, you do not want this on your TV, as it actually has the potential to stop that TV from letting you watch anything that’s on, so not getting it is a priority.

Fortunately, not getting it is far easier than you might think.

According to Symantec’s people, not clicking on suspicious links in texts, emails, and websites on your TV is the easiest way to make sure you don’t get this form of ransomware, since fake and nefarious links are the easiest way of transmission, especially since most televisions don’t include SMS access.

Essentially, practice the same habits you do on your computer or smartphone, such as not clicking on fake emails and treating emails you don’t know with suspicion.

Finally, always stick to Google’s Android Play store for apps, with Symantec suggesting “third party app stores can contain malicious apps”.

If the worst does happen and you do get infected, contact the maker of your TV for help, because there’s a good chance they’ll help you more than the people who made the ransomware.

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