New security threat against 'smart phone' users identified

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Washington, March 10 (ANI): Scientists have identified potential new security threats against new generations of smart mobile phones that could be carried out without the owner's knowledge.

Computer experts at Rutgers University demonstrated how a software attack could cause a smart phone to eavesdrop on a meeting, track its owner's travels, extract personal information from phone directories or rapidly drain its battery to render the phone useless.

Vinod Ganapathy, assistant professor of computer science in Rutgers' School of Arts and Sciences, said: "Smart phones are essentially becoming regular computers. They run the same class of operating systems as desktop and laptop computers, so they are just as vulnerable to attack by malicious software, or 'malware.'"

Ganapathy, computer science professor Liviu Iftode and three students, based their research on a nefarious type of malware known as "rootkits" that could lead to serious consequences.

Iftode said: "What we're doing today is raising a warning flag. We're showing that people with general computer proficiency can create rootkit malware for smart phones. The next step is to work on defenses."

The findings were due to be presented at the International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile 2010).

Working with Ganapathy and Iftode were Jeffrey Bickford and Ryan O'Hare, who worked on the project as undergraduates, and Arati Baliga, who worked on it as a postdoctoral researcher. (ANI)

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