The Daily Stirrer

Smarphone - The Cyber-crime perpetrator in your pocket.

by Ian R Thorpe.

The world is facing a wave of cybercrime and the likely perpetrator is right in your pocket. Think twice before you trust personal stuff to your smartphone, it is no more secure than a houise with no doors.

Smarphone - The Cyber-crime perpetrator in your pocket.

by Ian Thorpe
17 October 2011

According to internet security experts the world is facing a wave of cyber crime thanks in large part to people's addiction to their smartphone devices. An estimated 480 million smartphones a re expected to be sold this year. At the recent launch if the Apple iPhone 4s a technology worshipper outside the Apple store in London's Regent Street said he already had several iPhones but was buying this new version will does little that the previous model could not do, "for Steve Jobs who made all our lives so much better."

Such veneration of the hypeocrator of technology is a sad commentary on our times. Are we really so needy we must buy self esteem by owning the gadgets proclaimed as "kool" by the terminally uncool; (there is no Apple gadget available that does not duplicate an earlier device, from computers with graphic interfaces to tablet PCs as is detailed in Jobs Made Apple Into A Hype Machine.

Amid all the quasi religious fervour however, everybody had forgotten the downside of the internet. Personal security, arrangements by service providers and software suppliers is still woefully inadequate to safeguard the integrity of our private data, from intimate instant messaging exchanges to banking details. In fact "woefully inadequate" probably being too kind. Non existent would be more accurate. Henry Harrison, from leading UK internet security experts Detica, said a smartphone is " a fully fledged computer that's sitting in your pocket."

Therefore It can, and probably will, betray you as a result.

The flaw in the smartphone as in the now archaic IBM PC architecture is that it is too useful and too user friendly - for users who have been convinced it is "kool" to trade convenience for security.

Smartphones, because the problem is common to all, not just Apple, can collect our emails, store our bank details, we tweet, message and use Facebook on them. They are our bank vault, our confidante, our helpmate and mentor (Well yours maybe, I don't have one which I find very convenient; I don't have to repeat twenty times a day to unwanted callers, "Fuck the fucking fuck off, I'm busy.".

Another security expert, Cryptocard's Jason Hart demonstrated smartphones are the Achilles heel of those who depend on them.

To show how easy it is for criminals to exploit the insecurity and mobility of smartphones Mr Hart purchased a cheap item of equipment (no I'm not telling you what it is, there are too many people using them already) from a high street electrical store and downloaded free software from the internet. This is- all he needed to set up an "evil twin" Wi-Fi connection.

Criminals use these to harvest passwords and other sensitive data from smartphones or computers - often giving their Wi-Fi hotspots fake names familiar to punters at cafes and in airports. This is how easy it is to collect the smartphone users data - and if the user is fool enough to use skype it is even easier to steal what is left of their individual identity from them..

Many smartphones are set up to automatically leap on to available Wi-Fi hotspots and start downloading emails. Others will ask first. But with users brainwashed with the web mantra that everything can be free if we all join hands and sing Kumbiya and then play nicely together, so who would turn down "free Wi-Fi"? Nobody unless they are so tech savvy they know just how wifi networks operate and at what level of the ISO 7 layer model a skilled techie can break in and gather information in an entirely unencrypted form.

Mr Hart has set up his fake Wi-Fi hotspot in a vehicle outside a cafe. Within seconds smartphones picked it up and users were jumping on his Wi-Fi network and using it as an internet gateway. He was was able to show journalists and independent observers he could read email passwords and decrypt "secure" login details for various networks and services.

Because a visiting computer picks up a local session on the wi fi network is has jumped on and the IP address assigned by the ISP is grabbed by the wi fi network's host device https secure sockets are irrelevant. The smartphone gives its unique wireless network address to the network host on connecting. The host controls onward connections including encryption keys. The demonstration was "spear phishing" a willing user's data.

Crooks on a phishing expedition would more likely just cast the net wide and "trawl"as many passwords and user IDs and account codes as they can.

Mr Hart told the media "With the right equipment I could do this in a two or three mile radius... I conducted an attack against you guys and pretty much everything you were doing on your smart phone, I was able to essentially compromise all your passwords," It is true, Mr Hart could have pinched large numbers of passwords and user IDs in a radius of 100 metres. With a bigger antenna, he could operate from much further away. A smartphone you see must be able to exchange radio information with the nearest GSM mast. Home wi fi systems are not so insecure because they have a much more limited range.

Forty per cent of mobiles sold this year have been smartphones - and this has been a bumper year for malware developers who have focused their attention on smartphones. Those running Google's Android system have been especially targeted. Bitdefender's Catalin Cosoi said: "We have investigated applications for Android devices and basically, based on our statistics, we've seen a 2,000% increase of malicious applications compared to the last year... Our prediction is that in the following six months, we will have a 6,000% increase in malicious applications."

So anyone who thought malware only targeted Windows devices, be afraid, very afraid. The reason only Windows has been targeted for so long is only windows on PC's and laptops had the market penetration to make serious cybercrime worthwhile. Now most smartphones operating systems are built on a Linux platform and share common vulnerabilities. According to the research group Gartner , 43.4% of all smartphone sales use the Android platform, 18.2% use the Apple software, 22.1% use Nokia's Symbian and Blackberry's RIM , 11.7%. As smartphones increase the malware threat will too. It is very, very easy to create malware for smartphones. It is often simply a case of taking a malicious module from one application and insert it into another to start propagating, worm or Trojan horse across the web.

According to Detica and the Cabinet Office , Britain loses Ł27bn a year to cyber crime - that is four times the size of the drugs trade in the UK and the kind of money that is serious enough to attract the attention of international players in organised crime.

Smartphones are becoming the gateway for cyber criminals and cyber spies into sensitive personal data, individual bank accounts industrial and state secrets.

Once you have a smartphone, you will probably quickly come to believe you cannot go back to an older version or a simple mobile phone. You have access to a computer, social media, emails, pictures and so on. These gadgets and the things they give us access to are addictive, so smartphones are becoming a very important personal security risk to us all. People need to be made aware. Improving security is easy, remember there is no such thing as a free lunch, use the network you subscribe to rather than free wi fi you don't know anything about. McDonalds are only using wi fi hot spots to entice you into their restaurants and are quite safe as are other legitimate businesses but do you know how to tell a genuine network from a fake? Use a landline for personal banking if you live in apartments. If you have a house surrounded by a good sized garden your home wi fi is probably safe. And if you are doing anything very sensitive you can always use an ethernet fly lead to connect your PC to a home router. And don't use Skype. It is a development of an old, illegal file sharing system, your exchanges can be recorded and saved by any user PC that is acting as a network node and if you and your lover go showing each other your wedding tackle you can bet it will be all over the web in minutes.

Anti social networking Apple iPad Rant Wi Fi Why Fry iPad will not rewrite the book I am a human being not a computer Internet threat to civilization Internet Sceadugengan Internet Technology Science and technology menu CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: smartphone, technology, internet, apple, iphone, nokia, blackberry, google, android, security, wi fi, data, personal, crime, criminal, daily stirrer, ian thorpe, ianrthorpe

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