Android-powered smart TVs targeted by malicious apps

An old Android vulnerability is still present in many brands of smart TVs

Smart TVs running older versions of Android are being targeted by several websites offering apps containing malware, according to Trend Micro.

The security vendor wrote on Thursday that it found a handful of app websites targeting people in the U.S. and Canada by offering the malicious apps.

The apps are exploiting a flaw in Android that dates to 2014, showing that many smart TVs do not have the latest patches.

"Most smart TVs today use older versions of Android, which still contain this flaw," wrote Ju Zhu, a mobile threats analyst with Trend. "While most mobile Android devices can easily be upgraded to the latest version, upgrading smart TV sets may be more challenging for users because they are limited by the hardware."

The vulnerable Android versions are Cupcake 1.5 through Kitkat 4.4W.2., Zhu wrote.

Security experts say that smart TVs could become attractive to cybercriminals since their operating systems are not updated as rigorously as desktop computers.

Smart TVs are rising in popularity and are essentially large versions of mobile phones. The devices have operating systems and networking capabilities and hardware features such as USB ports, all of which present opportunities for hackers.

The malicious apps exploit the Android vulnerability when a user downloads one. Zhu said TV users are lured to the app sites but didn't describe if there are other tricks involved in getting people to download the apps.

Once a malicious app is installed, it is possible for the attackers to install other apps on the smart TV.

The app websites do not use SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security), which encrypts the connection. It would be possible then for a second attacker to intercept the unencrypted connection and conduct a man-in-the-middle attack "in effect overriding the payload of the first attacker," Zhu wrote.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?