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Discovery of Smartphone Vulnerability Reveals Hackers Could Track Your Location

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A woman texting.

Hackers may use machine learning to exploit a text-messaging vulnerability, according to new research led by Northeastern University Ph.D. student Evangelos Bitsikas.

Credit: Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Researchers led by Northeastern University's Evangelos Bitsikas discovered a flaw in text messaging that could allow attackers to track smartphone owners' whereabouts using a machine learning algorithm to mine data derived from the short messaging services (SMS) system.

Said Bitsikas, "Just by knowing the phone number of the user victim, and having normal network access, you can locate that victim."

Bitsikas' approach involves a hacker sending multiple text messages to the target's cellphone, triangulating their location with or without encrypted communications through the timing of their automated delivery notifications.

His team's algorithm can detect the location "fingerprint" created by that timing.

Bitsikas said he has found no evidence of the vulnerability's current exploitation.

From Northeastern Global News
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