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BBC creates app to expose smartphone vulnerabilities

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BBC creates app to expose smartphone vulnerabilities

The BBC has created a smartphone application to highlight the ease with which a malicious piece of software can compromise today’s smartphones.

The BBC used a Java app creation tool in order to build its own data-harvesting application and it took less than a month for a novice developer to build a malicious app, which collected text messages, location data and personal contact information from the phone without the user's knowledge.

The focus of most cybercriminal groups is still on PC users, but as more legitimate businesses get involved in the booming smartphone industry, the attention of those with malicious intentions is also being drawn towards it, with users less prepared for attacks.

Security expert Chris Wysopal said that the smartphone was at the same stage as the PC was eleven years ago when cybercriminal activity was still an uncommon pest, rather than the organised industry it is on the modern desktop market today.

Mr Wysopal told the BBC: "Mobile phones are really personal devices. You might have one computer for a family but every family member has a personal device and it is with them all the time."

Mobile security expert Simeon Coney explained that cybercriminals were targeting smartphones because of the potential for financial gain.

He said: "In the PC domain the only way a criminal can generally take money from a user is by having them click on a web link, go to a website, purchase a product and enter their credit card details.

“In a mobile network the device is intrinsically linked to a payment plan, to a user's credit.”

A recent study of over 300,000 smartphone apps by security vendor Lookout, discovered that 33 per cent of apps would attempt to find out the precise location of the user using their smartphone's GPS capabilities, while a tenth wanted access to contact details and addresses stored on the phone.

Experts urge smartphone users to stay vigilant and monitor their bills carefully to ensure that any illicit app activity is detected and eliminated quickly.

Category: News
Tagged: apps & software

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