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Preventing Smart-Phone Armageddon

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Credit: PocketBerry

Attacks against smartphones are likely to proliferate because of their growing ubiquity and the sensitive information they carry. However, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder believe they have devised an effective way to vet smartphones for viruses.

Smartphones lack the battery life to constantly run onboard virus-scanning software, so Bryan Dixon and Shivakant Mishra have proposed running virus scans on PCs to which the smartphones are frequently linked. A smartphone would be able to transmit hashes of all large files, and a PC would be able to use the information to ascertain which files have changed since the last time the phone was connected. Only those files would be scanned to save time. Although the strategy would not be able to defeat a rootkit, there are ways for determining whether a phone has been compromised in this manner, such as by timing how long the phone takes to respond to specific challenges.

Although smartphones are still vulnerable to an attack that would overload the network and make it almost impossible for calls to get through, the required scale and limited reach of smartphone viruses, Trojan horses, and rootkits make such an event unlikely.

From Technology Review
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