Foreign Hacking Might Hit TV Networks

How about a little more TV paranoia -- hacking-wise?

We know that some Eastern European/Russian digital media operatives infiltrated social media platforms, as well as those who hacked into certain email accounts.

But let’s move the ball further -- to specific systems that run important U.S. infrastructure. Recently, The New York Times reported that power plant computer systems were being infiltrated by Russian operatives in 2015 and 2016. U.S. systems were using old, easy-to-access system software.

In a public notice last Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security sent out warnings of “Russian Government Cyber Activity.” Key here is that is used the word “networks,” noting that they could be compromised.

What about those other “networks”? Television networks. Can a TV network be hacked?  



In 2015, there was a hack blacking out 11 channels belonging to French broadcaster TVMonde5. Pro-ISIS operatives were blamed as pro-ISIS imagery defaced network websites.

Apparently, all this could go much further: One story in in 2015 said "attackers could surreptitiously embed malicious code into the signal being broadcast to millions of TVs". Embedding malicious commands into broadcasts from cable or satellite providers is also theoretically possible.”

Many might worry about how “brand safe” traditional TV network advertising systems are. But maybe we should be looking at a different picture: an entire network.

None of this seems possible — currently. Still, hysteria is rampant. So take much of this with a grain — or shaker — of salt.

Though a federal agency did send out a public warning about key U.S. power plant systems being compromised, there was no mention of TV networks.

Frankly, it is not that much of a leap. Think what happened over a year ago with smart TVs. We already know that certain smart TV manufacturers were tracking viewers' behavior to get deeper marketing perspectives and/or personal data.

Such actions forced viewers to respond — with “opt-out” decisions. Vizio pulled this function, due to a public outcry.

We all want to be part of some network. Can we stand to be without one — if it wasn’t our choice?

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