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Smartphones' vulnerabilities exposed

Smartphones'  vulnerabilities exposed

As more and more personal information is loaded onto smartphones they inevitably become more attractive targets for hackers, according to Malware writers and academics at Rutgers University.

The university team has been demonstrating the techniques hackers could use to attack unaware smartphone users.

The tool being used by wrongdoers is a piece of malware called a rootkit and this particular technology has been established in hacking communities since the early 1990s.

Professor Liviu Iftode told TechNewsDaily: "The point of this work is not to demonstrate a new kind of rootkit but to show the greater damage they can cause on smartphones."

Smartphones are considered to be even more at risk of hacking, because a third party snooper could easily keep an eye on the users throughout their day, tracking movements and continually harvesting data that the smartphone accumulates during use.

Getting the rootkits into smartphones can be relatively simple, as they can be embedded in text messages or sent via Bluetooth.

One of the more worrying capabilities exhibited by Proffessor Iftode's rootkit came in the form of a function that allowed a hacker to covertly activate a smartphone's microphone, turning it into a listening device.

Rutgers researcher Jeffrey Bickford said that with the rootkit he can "listen to all of your corporate meetings where trade secrets are released. I know where you are all the time".

One irritating rootkit feature was used to boot up processor-intensive applications on an innocent smartphone, causing its battery life to be consumed quickly and rendering the mobile useless.

The purpose of the demonstrations by the research group is to raise general awareness as to the dangers that come with smartphone ownership and to make people think about the security of their mobiles more carefully.

Rutgers assistant Professor Vinod Ganapathy said that modification to existing desktop anti-rootkit solutions is necessary in order to protect smartphones from similar infections.

Category: News
Tagged: mobile phones

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