Could attackers make your web browser mine for bitcoins? How about your TV? Security flaws in some systems might make it possible, say experts.
German researchers have discovered a flaw in Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) television sets that could allow an attacker to run malicious code, including bitcoin miners, says one report.
These devices are among a growing number of Smart TVs, always connected to the Internet and accessing online services in addition to digital TV, to improve the viewing experience. The research was carried out by Marco Ghiglieri, Florian Oswald and Erik Tews of the Technical University of Darmstadt. Martin Herfurt from Germany consultancy Nruns also explored the Samsung TVs in question. They were found to have flaws that would allow attackers to inject their own content.
This has happened before with other Samsung TVs. Some believe that it is possible to run bitcoin miners on hacked devices such as these.
“It is completely possible, and some Smart TVs have been hacked remotely,” said cryptography and security expert Sergio Lerner, CEO of Argentinian company Certimix, who is involved in testing security flaws in the Bitcoin protocol.
Last week, we thought it was ridiculous enough that the DoD (of which the NSA is a key part) had reminded all staff that they were not allowed to look at any of the leaked NSA documents, even if they came across them in the press. If they spotted any, they had to alert various security officials and delete what they saw "by holding down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key for Windows-based systems and clearing of the internet browser cache." As we noted at the time, pretending these documents aren't public does not make much sense, and suggests a government agency that does not want to live in reality.
Now we can add Congress to that list as well. Senate staffers have now been told not to look at the leaked documents, and similarly that they need to "contact the Office of Senate Security for assistance" if they happened across any of the documents accidentally. Once again, this is insane because it means Congress should deny reality and pretend to live with its collective head in the sand -- which is no way to govern.
However, the much bigger deal is that if this were actually obeyed (and it's not), this would effectively hinder Congress's required duty of oversight of the NSA to prevent abuse. If the very Congress that's supposed to monitor the NSA's practices, and which has already been directly lied to by the intelligence community is now being told that it can't even look at the leaks to understand what's going on, how the hell are they supposed to do their oversight job?
We already commented on FBI director Robert Mueller arguing that the NSA's mass surveillance techniques would have prevented 9/11, and now it appears that Dick Cheney is agreeing with this fictional scenario in which his crystal ball says what might have happened:
"As everybody who's been associated with the program's said, if we had had this before 9/11, when there were two terrorists in San Diego — two hijackers — had been able to use that program, that capability, against that target, we might well have been able to prevent 9/11," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday."
That's speculation based on nothing, frankly. As has been widely covered, there were a number of reasons why the government failed to stop 9/11, just as there were plenty of reasons it failed to stop the Boston bombings back in April. The idea that this program would have stopped one (while it clearly missed the other) isn't particularly convincing.
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