Is there an Apple TV backdoor?

by editor @ on March 29, 2007

Over at the Tutorial Ninja’s site their is a claim that Apple have a backdoor in the Apple TV. With some features that have been hacked open (e.g VNC and SSH) becoming disabled.

Is this an Apple TV backdoor? Or is it just a software update or repair permissions script that has side effects? Nobody is quite sure yet.

  • ipp

    We didn’t say Apple did it. We have no proof just was saying it’s happened to several of our apple tv’s. But it was an easy enough fix.

  • mbd

    As mentioned at the other site, it’s just as likely that the apple tv has some kind of self-healing mechanism kicked off by a cron job or launchd configuration to ‘fix’ the system into the state it ‘should’ be.

  • sendai

    Or did someone forget to disable software update?

  • Jonathan

    ipp wote:
    “We didn’t say Apple did it.”

    And yet the headline of the blog post is “Apple vs Apple TV Mod’rs”.

    Is it remotely possible that you did a factory restore, which would disable all of the settings you had previously enabled?

  • foobar

    …or perhaps, since the username and password are now well-known, someone simply logged into your appleTV after finding it via a portscan, and screwed with it.

    On a related note, why would ANYONE connect ANYTHING to their home network without having a dedicated firewall blocking access from the rest of the world? Are people really that trusting?

  • Xianli

    This is maybe the reason >>

    FrontRow[245]UPD: clearing update files in /Users/frontrow/Updates

    Found in my system.log this morning.

  • I am about 97% certain it is a task that checks permissions. WE NEVER SAID
    appleTV had a backdoor, we only know permissions got changed. Speculations
    are the only thing we have right now.

  • nothing of the sort has happened to me. my unit’s firewall is still in its default state, but ssh and vnc are enabled. my network is behind a dedicated firewall, obviously. it seems unclear whether those experiencing these issues had firewalls in place.

  • Bing

    Even if this is nothing but a cron job restore to keep the AppleTV in optimum shape (because Apple probably assumes that most people want their TV to work the way it did yesterday even if there was a brownout…) this event does highlight one problem I’ve been wondering about. With all those TVs with frontrow/frontrow access, this is bound to cause problems for some people if they’re opening vnc and ssh ports. I mean, c’mon people! Has Windows security taught you nothing?

  • Less

    I will sniff my connections…

  • Just zis guy, see

    Like many pieces of consumer electronics that are computer-based, there is a factory restore image on the disk drive. This can be manually re-installed, or if the system detects a problem (such as not starting the Apple TV GUI after a few boots), the restore can be done automatically.

    This keeps Grandmaw from bringing the box back to the store every time the cat unplugs the device.

  • solipsism

    I sure hope AppleTV has a backdoor. How else would the Apple service techs access the AppleTV software via the USB “service port”?

  • anton

    Posted on tutorialninjas:

    Update: We got confirmation it was not apple doing it and either a repair script, war driving, or another reason. We apologize for the scare!

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