Man Has To Beg LG To Uncripple His 'Smart' TV After Ransomware Attack
from the dumb-is-the-new-smart dept
As an added bonus, your smart TV can now be infected by ransomware, too. Software engineer Darren Cauthon found this out the hard way when he awoke on Christmas Day to find that his family's LG 50GA6400 had been infected with a version of the Cyber.Police ransomware -- aka FLocker, Dogspectus, or Frantic Locker. That particular ransomware posts an image to the screen of the television pretending to originate with the FBI, and claiming that users must pay a $500 penalty to return full functionality to the television.
Cauthon quickly headed to Twitter to not only complain that his television was now demanding a payment just to function -- but that LG's online factory reset instructions for the TV in question didn't work:
"Cauthon says he tried to reset the TV to factory settings, but the reset procedure available online didn't work. When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centers, where one of its employees could reset his TV.Ultimately LG reached out to Cauthon to help by providing the correct factory reset sequence, though the infection should have never been possible to begin with. While it's possible that the infection could have come via a dubious download from the Google app store, the design of the television should never allow an application to take complete control of the device in the first place. While these infections are rare, other LG users have complained about similar attacks, and found removal of the offending malware to be difficult -- especially given the lack of control users often have over devices they purportedly "own."
This angered Cauthon because factory reset procedures shouldn't be secret, but also because the service center visit implied a $340 bill. The ransomware asked Cauthon to pay $500 to unlock his TV.
As one commenter on Twitter pointed out, it would be cheaper to buy a new TV. "Avoid these 'smart tvs' like the plague," Cauthon added following his discussion with LG."
Of course, security firms like Symantec have been warning about the rise of TV infections since 2015, noting that while in some instances a factory reset will solve the issue, in many instances removing the malware can be borderline impossible for a less technical user. And like so many internet of broken things devices, these TVs often fail to include basic functionality allowing users to determine what traffic the television is sending over the network, or settings allowing users to protect their security. It's just one more example of how "smart" devices are frequently dumber than the technology they're replacing.