Apple’s TV platform just became a little more secure (well, the apps at least)

By 2020, 36 per cent of all TVs will be smart – research

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Security for the Internet of Things is largely notable for its absence, so it’s refreshing see Apple developers taking the business of securing apps on Apple’s newly unveiled smart TVs seriously.

Application protection and anti-tamper firm Arxan Technologies is working with third-party developers to offer expanded application security protections for the Apple TV platform.

A number of the applications which come pre-installed on the newly announced Apple TV are protected by Arxan with application security measures designed to assure app performance, protect sensitive data, and prevent tampering, reverse engineering, and cryptographic key exposure.

Arxan isn’t saying how many or which apps are protected, beyond confirming content streaming and transactional apps are key markets for its technology in the nascent ecosystem.

The Apple tvOS platform brings together the Apple TV streaming platform with an app ecosystem for what’s (essentially) a modified version of iOS.

“App developers have learned many lessons from iOS apps over the years, particularly the need to bake more robust protection into the apps before they are released ‘into the wild’, and they are now applying those lessons to Apple tvOS,” said Vince Arneja, veep of product management at Arxan.

“Over the last few months there have been several iOS hacks. Developers are carrying over the security lessons from these incidents to a new platform [Apple tvOS],” he told El Reg

The Apple tvOS apps protected by Arxan feature multi-layered guards, inserted within the binary code of the applications following the development process. These guards protect the application from being reverse engineered and compromised at run-time.

In addition, cryptographic keys contained within the applications are transformed to mitigate the risk of them being identified within the code or in memory at run-time.

Apple wants tvOS devices to become the centre of wired homes, delivering gaming and home monitoring as well as movies and TV, with apps delivered through an App Store for TVs.

Digital TV Research is predicting that Smart TV’s will account for 36 per cent of the total number of connected televisions by 2020, and the anticipated rapid adoption of Apple TV.

Arneja said Arxan was working with streaming content providers such as Netflix and Amazon on other platforms outside of tvOS. Arxan is expanding its support for major IoT platforms more generally. Arneja described the current security of IoT platforms in general as “really weak”. ®

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