Internet security for your AppleTV??
 
Hot on the heals of theoretical questions about potential Internet security issues with the not-yet-shipping iPhone, a real Internet security issue has surfaced with the already-shipping AppleTV. Both the iPhone (reportedly) and the AppleTV (actually) run modified versions of Mac OS X, and thus are, in many ways, full computers. As full computers, when on the Internet, these products are, in many ways, just as vulnerable as general purpose machines.
 
To prove the point, Apple has just released the first security update for AppleTV. Similar to updates on Mac OS X, the update is automatically installed over the Internet, although you can also install it manually if you’d like. Details are on the Apple Web site. The issue addressed is one where it’s theoretically possible for someone to launch an Internet-based attack against an AppleTV box and, again in theory, crash that box or take it over. Once the box has been taken over, since it’s running Mac OS X, the attacker could use it for all sorts of nefarious purposes, including attacking other machines on your network and on the Internet at large.
 
Ironically, the problem is in a protocol called UPnP, originally developed by, of all companies, Microsoft. Figures.
Thursday, June 21, 2007