Cybercriminals, computer viruses may soon invade your smart TVs: Eugene Kaspersky


As technology evolves, so does cybercrime, and criminals may soon be lurking right in our home screens.  A top global security expert says malware, viruses and cybercriminals may attack televisions (TVs) that are connected to the Internet, especially with its ease of use and popularity of downloadable movies from the World Wide Web.

Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and CEO of the Kaspersky Lab in Russia warns everyone of the impending cyber-attacks through smart TVs, in an interview with media outlet The Telegraph. Kaspersky Lab is the fourth biggest computer antivirus group in the world.

"The threats will diversify to mobile phones and to the home environment, such as through televisions, which are now connected to the Internet," he explains.

The Lab's headquarters on global research and development in Moscow says reported suspicious activities doubled this year, with around 315,000 activities recorded.

Though it has yet to receive confirmed reports of virus penetrating TV sets, Kaspersky still says Internet-connected TVs will soon be vulnerable to malicious software that already brought about damages to desktop and laptop devices and now starts to attack mobile phones, too.

"It's just a question of time. We already have a product for mobile and we have a prototype for TV so we are ready to address this issue when new malware for television is released by criminals," he says.

TV sets become potential targets because of several things in common with a computer: memory chips, Android operating system and Internet technology. The only difference between a computer and a TV screen, he says, is remote control and bigger screen.  

In a survey conducted in May 2013, 50 percent of all British consumers were found to like the idea of getting online content with the use of their TVs. Early this year, 13 percent of the British population have Internet-connected smart TVs through a set-top box or integrated technology. In 2016, about 100 million homes in the U.S. and the Western Europe are expected to have one TV connected to the Internet.

When asked if Kaspersky was already able to receive information of a virus successfully penetrating TV sets, he admits not having seen one yet but insists it will happen.

He also mentioned that Microsoft Windows, dozens of iOS-powered devices of Apple and thousands of mobile phones mostly on Android receive millions of attacks in a year. He also noted that more engineers continue to develop software for Android. Regardless, he believes all systems are vulnerable and possibly the bad guys may also develop malware for the iOS-powered devices. He says that with such, millions of devices may be infected.

He also sets the record straight on the controversial Heartbleed Bug that shocked cyberspace in the previous weeks, clarifying the bug is not a virus but a security vulnerability. He compares it to a weak door lock that anyone can easily open without the need for a key.

Though he says that the threats are real. For servers, the bug can read the server's memory and get access to all sensitive data stored. For individuals, the bug can access social network accounts and personal or private data that may compromise financial accounts if online banking is connected to it. For private and public institutions, the bug can also access confidential or classified information.

He, however, identifies the worst threat of all.

"Now it's a different era. I'm afraid that we will see very bad attacks with real damage on the critical infrastructure because it is managed by computer systems that are vulnerable."

Think about seaports, airports, factories and power plants, among others. He adds that these were designed decades ago when cyber-attacks and sabotage did not yet exist.

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