TV set-top boxes are being illegally tinkered with. Scammers that are looking to commit fraud will use the TV set-top boxes to implement malware. Initially the malware masks as a play button or something comparable. It will execute when the user unknowingly triggers it.
Due to the requirement of inputting personal details when registering and setting up the TV top-boxes, a victim’s personal information is put front and center post-malware infection. Authorities are linking this scam to the rise in “jail-broken” electronics.
In an attempt to receive TV channels that are normally restricted to paying customers, users will seek out the jail-broken devices in order to unlawfully gain access. It is due to this sentiment that the malware TV top-boxes are even a thing.
The Warwickshire Police offered an official statement on the situation:
“The set-top boxes can come with many common features the person purchasing may be unaware of, such as sites offering access to copyright infringing material and access to illegal sites. The set-top boxes may also contain infected malware that is disguised as something as innocent as a play button and is unknowingly initiated by the user; potentially impacting other electronic devices.
The users will normally have used some personal details when setting up the set-top box, which could be used to defraud them. Consequently, what may appear to be a bargain for the consumer may quickly turn into a genuine problem by loss of personal data and/or money.”
There are ways to (easily) prevent this from happening. First and foremost: don’t purchase jail-broken electronics. The risk of getting caught is too high. Second, when you do decide to purchase jail-broken electronics, use commonsense when registering them.
Do NOT use any personal information. DO use an alias. DON’T use a password/PIN you’ve used before. DO use a large variety of random letters and numbers.
Don’t be stupid and you’ll have nothing to worry about.