Smartphones: the perfect bugging device

Smartphones: the perfect bugging device

Summary: Security experts at the AusCERT 2011 Conference in Queensland this week warned that serious attacks on mobile phones are expected before the end of this year, and that those attacks will involve tracking users, not just stealing their money.

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TOPICS: Security
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Security experts at the AusCERT 2011 Conference in Queensland this week warned that serious attacks on mobile phones are expected before the end of this year, and that those attacks will involve tracking users, not just stealing their money.

On Wednesday, Amil Klein, CTO at Trusteer, explained how mobile malware has evolved to a stage where it can now bypass most banking security.

Graham Ingram, the general manager of AusCERT, backs this up.

"The genie is out of the bottle. The hardware is there, the software is there, the capability is there ... these guys will turn it around quickly, now. They know what to do, as soon as the reward is there — and it is clearly there — they will move rapidly into it, and I think that is going to shock a few people because we will wake up one morning and it will all be happening."

But it's not just users' bank accounts that are at stake; modern smartphones make the perfect bugging device.

The implications of being able to turn on a remote device that has the capacity to look at emails, geo-locate users, look at SMSes, listen to phone calls, record meetings and even turn on a camera are stunning. Intelligence agencies with these capabilities with a remote "on" button would be ecstatic.

Ingram is worried.

"Like you, I'm a little bit concerned now. I still use my iPhone and I love it but, you know, it is one of these things we accept."

Topic: Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Traditional mobile phones have been a perfect bugging device for many years. Smartphone's just make that feature more accessible now so the likelihood has continued to increase.

    The interesting thing about mobile phone's is that a user assume it's off because the screen is off and it doesn't respond to being touched. The reality is they have no idea whether it's transmitting (or recording, or tracking) or not. This has been exploited for many years and is one reason such devices just can't be taken into (really) secure environments.
    jeromy-6e440
  • Worst report delivery of all time, content good, interesting and informative, structure good, expert good but reporter delivery terrible – just be your self stop trying to be dramatic and edgy and lowing the voice with urgent tones. Stop trying to be a shock type news journalist. Just be your self if you want credibility.
    Gottobesaid