August 21, 2010 Category : Higher Studies
JUST HAVE LOOK AT THIS YOU WILL BE PUZZLED............................
Innovation is our regular column highlighting emerging technologies and predicting where they may lead
It's a common tale in the computing world: once you achieve popularity you become a target for hackers. And so it was for Android, Google's smartphone operating system.
In the week that the IT analysis company Gartner confirmed US sales of Android were now outstripping those of Apple's illustrious iPhone, other reports noted that the system had for the first time been infected by a piece of profit-seeking malware. Online security company Kaspersky Labs warned that Android had been hit by an SMS trojan – a program hiding a piece of code that secretly sends text messages to premium rate numbers owned by crooks.
While those who downloaded the trojan-containing media player may be surprised when their next phone bill hits the mat, this piece of smartphone-based malware will have raised few eyebrows among security researchers. After all, the on-board computing power of today's smartphones makes them as capable of running malware as they are of playing Scrabble.
The real significance of this attack is that it marks an evolution in mobile malware, says Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer of San Francisco-based smartphone security maker Lookout. Instead of writing malware to impress their peers, the authors of this smartphone trojan are after money.
"Malware on the PC has hit three relatively distinct milestones that we could classify as 'ego', 'profit' and 'political'. This cycle looks like it will repeat itself for mobile phones, only significantly accelerated," he says
The growth of smartphone malware featured prominently at last month's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. There, Lookout's researchers highlighted programs that were supposed to provide eye-pleasing backgrounds for Android phones but turned out also to surreptitiously harvest contact details and location information. It's been a small step from hackers demonstrating the system's weaknesses to those seeking to exploit security holes for profit. Others demonstrated attacks affecting iPhones and Windows-based smartphones.
But it wasn't supposed to be like this. Modern smartphones were supposed to have secure operating systems. For example, Android apps are forced to work with a "permissions" mechanism that restricts the operations that the app can undertake. If an app wants to be able to read location data, it should have to get permission from the user.
As the Lookout researchers have demonstrated, however, users often have a poor grasp of what an app may reasonably need access to and may not routinely deny unreasonable requests.
BEWARE OF THE HACKERS..................................