Virus risk for STBs, Connected TVs

The latest generation of TVs and set-top boxes are at risk of virus infection unless manufacturers take steps to build in protection, according to digital TV specialist, Ocean Blue Software (OBS).

The company, which has developed TV application software for many of the major manufacturers, says the majority of new TVs and set-top boxes that allow for connection to the Internet will be exposed to new forms of viruses never before associated with TVs and STBs.

“Almost any TV based product with a processor, enough memory and an Internet connection is at risk,” said Ken Helps, founder and CEO of OBS. “That describes today’s digital TVs. Previously, these devices could only receive new software updates ‘Over The Air (OTA)’ which was controlled entirely by the broadcasters. But now, most are connected to the web and have built-in web browsers. Owners can access any internet address and potentially download anything.”

OBS notes that although every TV and set-top box is different, most connected systems now use Linux and widely available software packages such as graphics engines and codecs. It suggests that opening up Digital TV receivers to PC-centric technologies means that anyone can author the content and with an increasing proliferation of Pay-Per-View services, personal details, such as credit card information, will be stored within TVs and set-top boxes.

Ocean Blue is developing Neptune software, a firewall for its DVB core, but warns this will provide only rudimentary protection. “TVs do not have sufficient power to run full Anti-Virus (AV) protection,” added Helps. “We have the technology to link our software to a cloud-based AV service that can provide AV scanning before downloads reach the TV set. That would solve the processing issue, and ensure protection was always up to date.”

Ocean Blue is currently in discussions with Asian CE vendors and chipset companies to adopt Neptune as part of their Connected TV strategy.

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