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Home » Hacking News » Hacking cellphones

Hacking cellphones

by Nikola Strahija on January 31st, 2002 Researchers in Holland discovered a bug in the operating system used in many popular Nokia phones. A hacker could exploit the security hole by sending a malformed SMS message short, electronic text messages of about 160 characters or less capable of crashing the operating system.


"As that occurs people need to be sensitive in the same way people should be concerned about files they download to their desktop." said Jason Conyard, director of mobile products for antivirus software maker Symantec. We are talking about downloading ringtones and graphics from the net.

For example researchers in Holland discovered a bug in the operating system used in many popular Nokia phones. A hacker could exploit the security hole by sending a malformed SMS message short, electronic text messages of about 160 characters or less capable of crashing the operating system.

In Japan, where mobile telephone networks are more advanced, a hacker sent an e-mail to 13 million users of the i-mode wireless data service. When users opened the e-mail, their phones were taken over by the rogue program which dialed 1-1-0, Japan's emergency hotline number.

But US carriers say that can't happen here.

"Call-control functions are typically isolated from the side of the phone, as it were, that would run a game application or a scheduler application or so forth," said Mark Kelley, CTO of San Diego-based Leap Wireless International.
But Illka Stark, who runs North American operations for F-Secure, a Finnish company that specializes in security software for phones, isn't as confident.

"This device differs quite substantially from a normal mobile phone," he said pointing to a Nokia Communicator smart phone, which uses the Symbian operating system.

"These devices do provide connectivity which is not in the PC, and this connectivity opens up new threats, and everything is possible," said Stark. "I do believe that there is a certain risk that code could be written that could initiate a connection which is not user-initiated. By having that kind of connection the owner of that device is responsible for the billing."

To help protect against mobile viruses, Symantec sells an antivirus program for handhelds that use the Palm operating system. So far only four viruses targeting the Palm OS have been discovered.


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