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DoD be Warned: Smartphones A Weak Spot in Cyber Armor

by John Reed on February 24, 2011

Here’s an interesting piece from our sister site, DoDBuzz. It’s about the security dangers inherent in smartphones. This is an area that you’ve probably wondered about before. We do everything on our smartphones nowadays and, in some cases, they store all our data. If you’ve been paying attention you may have seen articles highlighting the fact that cyber criminals are going to start targeting our phones.

Well, now that the military has discovered smartphones in a big way, it’s also got to worry about how to defend its networks from attacks that take use smartphones as a way of gaining access to those networks.

From Buzz:

Smartphones “are a really rich target,” Joe Pasqua, VP for research at Symantec, said in a briefing for reporters today. For example, Android phone applications receive no security screening before they are released, and iPhone apps receive a cursory scrub. Those apps could be loaded with malware “that can take down a cell tower,” he said. Currently, Android phone face four known malware threats, he said.

In addition to the possible threat from apps, cell phones can be formed into botnets, remotely controlled computer devices turned into a malicious network that hackers have used to great effect in attacking computer networks. Pasqua was careful to note that no one has yet created a botnet with cell phones, but he says it can be done.

Still, there are relatively straightforward solutions to these security challenges:

The military has ways to make phones more secure, including encryption. Turning off the voice portion of the phone and only allowing it to use the data network would help, Pasqua said. That way all data transmissions can be encrypted, including voice communications using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Also, locking the phone and only allowing the use of approved apps would help, the Symantec security expert said. The same thing is often done with company-issued laptops.

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