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Google issues a security warning for Android TV

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Google has issued a warning to users of Android TV OS devices that some TV boxes are not what they seem, especially when it comes to the security implications for their users.

Is this Android TV Play Protect certified?

In an official post on the Google Android TV OS support forum, a Google employee confirmed that the company “recently received questions regarding TV boxes built with the Android Open Source Project and marketed as AndroidTV OS”.

However, as we all know, looks can be deceiving. Even if the warning declares that Google apps and even the Play Store are installed on these devices, this does not mean that they are subject to Google’s license. Which means, the warning persists, that “these devices are not Play Protect certified”.

What is a Play Protect certificate and why do you need it?

Why is this so important and why should you heed this warning from Google as an Android TV user? Being Play Protect certified means that the device has built-in malware protection from Google to protect your apps and data from malicious actors. “We work with our partners to ensure Android TV OS devices adhere to strict security and privacy policies and undergo extensive testing to ensure quality and user safety,” Google’s post states.

You can check if your device is Play Protect certified by visiting the official Google Android TV OS website or by following the steps here.

Cheap Android TVs are pre-installed with scam malware.

In the same vein, some cheap and “very popular” Android TV devices sold online have also been reported to come with pre-installed malware “capable of coordinated cyberattacks”.

Two security researchers, independent of each other, have discovered that Android TVs use malware to connect to command and control servers. The report states that this is where vandals make money by clicking ads in the background, i.e. click fraud, without the user’s knowledge. A hacked Android TV device combines with others, without the user’s knowledge, to become part of a botnet that could include thousands of TV boxes, all engaging in click fraud.

It is essential to be aware of security and privacy risks

“Instead of offering additional channels, some of these boxes offer malware on demand,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity consultant at NordVPN. “In addition to collecting users’ personal data, this software, when activated, means that the fund can also connect to a wider network of bots and is used by cybercriminals to earn money by mining cryptocurrency – or by clicking on ads,” the cybersecurity advisor said.

Awareness is key, concludes Mr. Warmenhoven: “It is essential that people are aware of the risks of purchasing these boxes from unreliable sources. More than half of people have Internet-connected television, and these boxes and other alternatives to cable will only grow in popularity.”

Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Davey Winder

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