As smartphones become the new target for hackers, Channel 4 News Technology Correspondent Benjamin Cohen investigates the new techniques being used to spy on phone calls and access personal data.
The phone-hacking scandal caused outrage across the country but the private investigators working for News International used primitive methods.
Imagine if someone couldn’t just hack into your voicemail messages but listen to everything you say, or even take a photograph using your phone without you knowing. That iss the threat looming over millions of people.
The surge in attacks is being driven by a growing number of smartphone users, particularly mobiles which are powered by the Google Android system.
These malicious codes introduce a back door entry. That gives me access to all your information, including phone calls, emails and photos. Nils
By clicking on an email link which contains malicious code, hackers are able to access emails and bug phone calls, even while your phone is on standby.
Nils, who does not want his surname revealed in case he becomes a target for hackers, developed this attack to test the vunerabilities of smart phones.
“These malicious codes introduce a back door entry. That gives me access to all your information, including phone calls, emails and photos.
“I recorded all the conversations you had.
“For you the phone looks like it’s on standby, but my backdoor is still open,” Nils said.
Nils told Channel 4 News that the hack he conducted works on the older versions of Android phones, of which there are around 30,000,000 in use. Newer versions are immune from this specific virus. Google told us that it responds rapidly to security threats.
Security firm Kaspersky say the number of threats to smartphones has doubled in the past two years. It identified 2,564 identified threats in 2011, compared to 906 different viruses in 2009.
Anti-virus company McAfee has reported a 76 per cent surge in malware aimed directly at Google’s Android systems.
In its second quarterly report for 2011, McAfee warns that fake Angry Birds updates and novelty apps are being used to comb through smartphones for personal details.
It comes as a new survey by the Association of Independent Research Centres shows that two thirds of people have a smartphone with no password protection.
How to protect your phone:
• Update your mobile phone's operating system regularly. Most manufacturers offer one every few months.
• Think carefully about clicking on a link from someone you don't know or that is obscured by a URL shortener like Bit.ly.
• Use caution when opening an attachment.
• Consider installing a well known anti-virus system for your phone such as Kaspersky. Apple's iPhone has a more secure system than most, so there may be less need for anti-virus software
• Create a security code to enter your phone.
• Think of your phone as a computer, not just a device to make calls on.
Benjamin Cohen on Technology: Treat your phone like a PC? Then you'll need to consider viruses
More than 90 per cent of people store personal data, such as photos, emails or contact details, on their smartphones. One third also save login information, such as PIN codes or passwords, for various services on their mobile devices.
Around one third of smartphone owners use their phones for online banking.
But the majority of people say they are not concerned about phone security, with 58 per cent of people saying they feel “safe” from the threat of hacking.
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