TV Spamming – The next generation digital TV problem

Today, most existing TV’s are real time streams from streaming servers, and digital content providers such as comcast etc are touting their On Demand programming. With this new change to digital media I can see it clearly that most of us in the very near future will watch TV in a completely on demand state where advertisements are built into the content when requested for delivery to the TV Digital Media endpoint. I can picture going home at the end of the day and selecting the News category and then the local news and then watching the 6 o clock news at 8pm. Its already happening, and its just one step away from being exploited by something entirely more sinister.

Crime Growth on the Internet
I have a friend of mine that works for Microsoft and he works on the security mechanisms of digital content delivery for a day that the existing TV goes into the totally delivered content mode rather than ad hoc content mode. It made me think about how the internet started out. In the beginning there was almost no crime and the internet was educational and informational in nature. As it was slowly adopted by the mainstream it enticed criminals to jump onto the bandwagon. Some are saying that cybercrime is now over a $100 billion industry towering over even illegal drug sales (although I’m not sure if this is true or not).

The Digital Content Problem
Initially, a television was a purpose built appliance that sat in the home and just read analog input from the cable or air networks and displayed the content to users which is a pretty simple technology by today’s standards. What is changing is the complexity and intelligence of the in-house endpoints.  Rapidly approaching is the day that these systems get to the point where they will be completely network capable computing devices. DVR’s are already computers with Custom operating systems and many consumers are already modifying (hacking) and installing programs onto them.

This leads me to my next two questions:

Why not Infect them?

Are digital television worms on the horizon?

I can see a time very shortly ahead in which worms and viruses are sent out over the TV content networks. These new infections would be copying digital sound and video and automatically infecting the digital devices that process the content. I can see them even splicing in their own manipulated content into the video stream located on the DVR unit to change the content to “spam” the end user. I can see a time where cybercriminals will begin using another customer’s processing units to upload and download software from the infected digital TV systems. They could distribute copywritten movies for free or steal content from those who have purchased the content. They could then begin sharing it amoungst groups of others.
So all that being said, I dub thee “TV Spamming” and “Video Spamming” We”ve seen it at the post office, we’ve seen it in your email box so why is it that much of a stretch to see it on the TV screen propogated through a vulnerability on the DVR and blasted across the entire Television network?

TV Spamming:
The act of surrupticiously utilizing a digital video recorder or media center processing device to “splice” content and deliver unwanted custom video and audio to end users.