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Georgia Tech to Lead Fight Against Cell Phone Hackers

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The Georgia Institute of Technology has won a three-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct research into securing cell phones. Georgia Tech professor Jon Griffin says the danger of cell phone viruses is that they could spread in the same way as actual viruses, passing from device to device as people walk by each other.

Cell phones have multiple points of vulnerability, including numerous connection options, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, email, and text, as well as downloaded applications. Georgia Tech professor Patrick Traynor says there have not yet been widespread attacks against cell phones, and the research effort is hoping to prevent such situations from occurring, or to have a solid response prepared when such an attack takes place. The researchers believe a solution may lie with service providers, and they are exploring the ability of a provider to remotely wipe clean a mobile device that has been stolen or infected.

The researchers will establish miniature cell networks, using small cell towers called Femtocells and donated phones, and will attempt to compromise the network and determine the best way to return it to normal.

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