Run Kodi on an Apple TV? You’re Begging to Get Hacked

Whether you love Kodi for its open-ended, customizable approach to streaming, or hate it for the shady stuff that runs rampant on the platform, installing the open-source software media center has always been an “at your own risk” proposition.  If you picked up an Apple TV 2 back in the day and installed Kodi on it, the risk has finally come back to bite you: the system is vulnerable to an exploit of the most trivial variety. Worse still: It always has been.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That warning comes from TvAddons, a site for DIY streaming enthusiast with a focus on Kodi, Android TV and other open platforms. The problem with the Apple TV 2, according to the article’s anonymous author, is that it requires a jailbreak in order to run Kodi. That’s not news; newer Apple TVs require a jailbreak to run Kodi as well.

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What’s troubling, however, is that the jailbreak software for the Apple TV 2 comes installed with the OpenSSH protocol, and a default password: “alpine.” If you’ve never taken the time to change your Apple TV 2’s password (and a lot of users don’t even know that this is an option), it’s vulnerable to all sorts of hacks — and so is whatever network you’ve connected it to.

Luckily, TvAddons provides a simple way to get around the problem. The nitoInstaller app that jailbroke your Apple TV 2 can also change its password. Open the program, connect to your Apple TV (your computer and the streaming box should be on the same network, naturally), then select Advanced from nito’s toolbar. Click Change SSH Password, enter a new one, and you’re done.

Although it’s not clear whether anyone has exploited this vulnerability in the wild, the article’s author theorizes that an unsecured Apple TV could lead to spam, DDoS attacks, malware or distribution of pornography. Since a jailbroken Apple TV is essentially an Internet-connected computer, none of those possibilities is out of the question.

In fact, if Kodi is your streaming OS of choice, you probably shouldn’t even be using an Apple TV 2 anymore. The last update to the Kodi software on this platform was more than two years ago, and that carries both security risks as well as everyday usage nuisances. You can install Kodi on newer Apple TVs, if you want, although it’s much easier to do so on an Nvidia Shield or an Amazon Fire TV.

As always, bear in mind that installing third-party software on any platform carries security risks, especially if you need to jailbreak your device first, as is the case with Apple products. Still, there are ways to mitigate those risks, and changing the default password is an easy one. So is buying a new device if yours came out seven years ago.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.