How to manage security threats on Android TV

Android TV is an open environment that could make operators love it, or hate it. There are many reasons for loving it – check out our ebook, “5 facts to help you decide if Android TV is for you” for more. But there is only one main reason for potentially hating it… the security risk associated with it being open.

Threats are a reality in any environment

We’ve often heard the following two questions from operators:

  • What if my subscribers use my Android TV STB mainly for Netflix, YouTube, etc.?
  • What if people get my subsidized Android TV box, stop paying me and keep it just for the apps?

These are valid concerns, since one of Android TV’s main attractions for consumers is access to the thousands of apps in the Google Play Store. But frankly, this is the reality you have to accept with Android TV. Otherwise, you can consider Android AOSP – without the app store, but also without many built-in features. Read this blog for more.

If these concerns are putting you off, we’d suggest exploring commercial models to recuperate your box investment as soon as possible. You can also take technical steps to promote your service above OTT apps, or deter subscribers from “kidnapping” your box. Download our e-book “7 ways your Android TV STB can be abused” for more.

Addressing the top threats on Android TV

We’ve identified five security threats that operators should be aware of on Android TV. These are:

  • Kodi being misused for piracy
  • Android TV STB reloaded and repurposed with unauthorized software
  • Malicious apps side-loaded or from the app store attacking the STB
  • Competitors’ broadcast services running on your Android TV STB
  • Free-to-air or OTT apps using the storage space on your STB for PVR functions

Some of these threats could happen to any STB, while others are threats specific to Android TV. All of them deserve serious consideration due to the potential consequences. More importantly, all of them can be managed with a solid security strategy to minimize or eliminate the impact on your Android TV STB. For more details on this, check out “7 ways your Android TV STB can be abused”.

Security beyond Google’s work

Google has taken some steps towards securing Android TV, but you need to do more to protect the whole platform. To do so, you need to work with a security partner who:

  • Is working closely with Google to get more security measures built into Android TV
  • Devises some rules with Google to make it easier for operators to add security
  • Actively develops tools and services specifically for Android TV threats to help you close the security gap

By adding some layers of security on top of Android TV, you can truly love it and use it to build a robust, futureproof STB platform.