Smart phones are found to be vulnerable to cyber attacks

You can expect that year 2010 will be a year of the smartphones. As early as now, most of the phone manufacturers are releasing and announcing their new smartphone offerings and innovations. And this is brought about by the advancement in technology, computing power in your hands – anytime and anywhere.

Smart phones are mobile phones that also offer Internet accessibility, texting and e-mail capabilities and a variety of programs commonly called “apps,” or applications. So in a nutshell, its a device that allows you to do what a mobile phone is supposed to do and what a computer is supposed to as well. But as I have been saying eversince, any device that can connect to the web are potential security threats.

And smartphones are no different. As a matter of fact, computer scientists at Rutgers University recently reported that a familiar type of personal computer security threat can now attack new generations of smart mobile phones, with the potential to cause more serious consequences.

By using rootkits, they found out that it could use the smartphone to eavesdrop on conversations like perhaps in a meeting, track its owner’s travels, drain its battery to render the phone useless. All these can happen without the owner being aware of what happened or what caused them.

A rootkit is a software system that consists of one or more programs designed to obscure the fact that the system has been compromised. An attacker may use a rootkit to replace vital system executables, which may then be used to hide processes and files that the attacker has installed, along with the presence of the rootkit. A rootkit may also consist of spyware and other programs that: monitor traffic and keystrokes; create a “backdoor” into the system for the hacker’s use; alter log files; attack other machines on the network; and alter existing system tools to escape detection.

Rootkit attacks on smart phones or upcoming tablet computers could be more devastating because smart phone owners tend to carry their phones with them all the time. This creates opportunities for potential attackers to eavesdrop, extract personal information from phone directories, or just pinpoint a user’s whereabouts by querying the phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. Smart phones also have new ways for malware to enter the system, such as through a Bluetooth radio channel or via text message.

In one of the test made by the scientist, they turned on the microphone of the phone without the knowledge of the owner and they were able to listen in to the conversation. They were also able to activate the Bluetooth radio and GPS receiver to quickly drain the battery.

So what does this mean? Given all the advancements, we users should be careful and we should do everything to protect our information from all these. As much as we need to install the necessary security tools and applications, we need to be updated and practice vigilance. Keep in mind that in every security breaches, one way or the other, we have some participation in it. So take the necessary precautions always.


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