Did Apple install a rootkit in Apple TV? No.

Did Apple install a rootkit in Apple TV? No.

Summary: [Update 4/5/2007 - Apple says it's your box but be mindful of voiding that warrantee]Several Apple TV modders are complaining that their enhancements to Apple TV, such as adding VNC and SSH, are being disabled over night. As some of my readers may recall, I wrote "Apple TV might obsolete the x86 appliance market" two months ago with some high hopes for it.

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TOPICS: Apple
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[Update 4/5/2007 - Apple says it's your box but be mindful of voiding that warrantee]

Several Apple TV modders are complaining that their enhancements to Apple TV, such as adding VNC and SSH, are being disabled over night. As some of my readers may recall, I wrote "Apple TV might obsolete the x86 appliance market" two months ago with some high hopes for it. I'm also hearing rumors that the USB port is disabled.

I'll be running some tests this week to see how we can hack this thing to run some cool applications like IPCop or Asterisk, but I admit I'm getting a little more discouraged, and it sounds like a little more work needs to be done. I'm beginning to wonder who owns the hardware, Apple or the user.

Topic: Apple

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57 comments
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  • I highly doubt it

    As suggested in the comments at the site you linked to, it's more likely a nightly cron job that checks system files and is resets them if they're "corrupted".
    toadlife
    • This would be alot easier

      The guys who modded their Apple TV don't appear to actually have tried anything. A simple audit of security could result in this from a cron job as you said earlier. The original article does sound a bit like they jumped the gun.

      After cutting net access and VNC/SSH gets cut, what do they hypothosize next? Apple has a secret satellite uplink to each Apple TV?
      nucrash
  • Responsible Publishing

    Maybe it would be a good idea to find out the facts before you even publish something that is conjecture. You should find out all the facts before even thinking about writing such an article as this. So much for responsible journalism. This blurb seems to be simply to propel quick readership as a news headline.

    Do the work first people. If I were Apple, I would aim the attorneys at you.
    panomedia
    • How else to get more people to task

      Announce that their might be a problem and see if others experience the same issue.

      This works for me.
      nucrash
    • Umm...

      "This blurb seems to be simply to propel quick readership as a news headline."

      That's exactly what it's is supposed to do. This is a blog, an opinion piece, not journalism.

      Carl Rapson
      rapson
      • Even so, it's irresponsible IMO

        to suggest (via a sensationalized headline) Apple is pulling a Sony (re secret rootkit) without having any real facts to support it.

        It may help the hit count but so far its pure conjecture and typical Ou Apple bashing.

        If it is found to be true and "evil" then call Apple on it. Until then, the accusation (disguised as a question) is devoid of any real news or content.

        Or do bloggers have the special freedom to make any wild accusations or defamatory statements without consequence?

        ...
        MacCanuck
        • While I agree

          that the title was sensationalized to get more clicks, the author is infact asking a question in the title.

          If the title read "Apple is installing a rootkit in Apple TV!"
          Then I would consider it irresponsible.
          Badgered
          • I disagree

            probably because it's George and his history re Apple :-)

            If it had read "Is Apple blocking/preventing Apple TV mods?" (like another news item suggests), it would still ask the question behind what's going on without suggesting Apple is nefarious and up to no good.

            Blocking hacks or mods on your software or hardware would be deemed acceptable (up to a point) vs raising concerns of questionable conduct.

            eg, MS has taken measures to stop it's XBox from being "hacked" (used) for anything other than MS planned & approved functionality.

            (I'm still waiting for the Trojan Horse XBox (it is a functioning "computer after all) to bust out, take the next step and surprise (maybe not) MS partners Dell, HP, etc the way MS did it's mp3 cohorts and "partners" with the Zune)

            ...
            MacCanuck
          • Congratulations!!

            On the most ironic post ever. And also not breaking your consecutive string of going off on an anti-ms rant while posting to a blog that had nothing whatsoever to do with Microsoft. <br>
            Tha irony? You claim George is biased against Apple and making them sound nefarious and up to no good. Then you promptly go into a totally unwarranted, ethically unsavory and condescending rant about Microsoft. <br>
            I find that ironic after you accuse someone of similar behavior.
            xuniL_z
          • The difference is that...

            no one comes here specifically to read what MacCanuck has to say. Or what you or
            I have to say. They come here to read what George has to say.

            There is a different set of ethics for a blogger than for someone who responds to a
            blog, at least in my mind.
            msalzberg
      • I'm sorry, you should have mentioned your illiteracy

        Right at the top of my email it says:
        <b>MUST_READ NEWS STORIES</b>

        and Ou's blog is (hilariously) named:
        <b>Real World IT</b>

        Perhaps I'm a bit slow, bit I generally associate anything call "News" and "Real
        World" as being fact-based, not faux news that's pretty obviously bought and paid
        for. But that's Ou's stock-in-trade, and he's not going to give it up. The real
        problem is that real news sources will pick up on this and report it as fact, not the
        insidious fiction it is.
        JoeBob_z
    • You must be new here

      This is Ou. Sensationalism and yellow journalism are his trademark.
      frgough
  • Extremely unlikely behing a router, don't you think George?

    Looking at the most recent posts regarding this (and I don't have an Apple TV so I can't confirm or deny), I would imagine the box is simply self-repairing. It COULD be connecting to a central Apple server to get patches etc, but a rootkit? I doubt it.
    Scrat
    • Of course it's possible behind a router

      Ports can be open from the inside.
      georgeou
      • In that case...

        We eagerly await your packet capture data, Oh 1337 IT Gooroo.
        Just zis guy, see
        • Sure thing...

          Just buy my product that transmits all of your network traffic to me. I am sure, you like many others use a firewall with basic rules such as Block all incoming, allow all outgoing and hope for the best.
          nucrash
      • Please note the lack of the word "impossible" in the subject (NT)

        ...
        Scrat
  • Rootkit is the wrong word.

    Rootkit implies that someone else controls all aspects of your system, and that the control was added afterwards by some surreptitious means. If you buy a system that lets someone else control certain aspects of your system remotely, then that's something else entirely. If as other posters here have conjectured, and it's built in to ensure system integrity, then it's significantly different from WGA or OGA. More intrusive, but essentially the same thing.

    Perhaps you should use back door instead of rootkit. Back door generally implies that remote control was built in when you got the thing, and that it was meant to be that way.
    Letophoro
    • Oops.

      Should have read:

      Rootkit implies that someone else controls all aspects of your system, and that the control was added afterwards by some surreptitious means. If you buy a system that lets someone else control certain aspects of your system remotely, then that's something else entirely. If as other posters here have conjectured, and it's built in to ensure system integrity, then it's [b]not[/b] significantly different from WGA or OGA. More intrusive, but essentially the same thing.

      Perhaps you should use back door instead of rootkit. Back door generally implies that remote control was built in when you got the thing, and that it was meant to be that way.
      Letophoro
      • Iam sure George has evidence to this and will

        release it in a couple of days.
        mrlinux