By CLINT SWETT
Scripps Howard News Service
September 5, 2006
Researchers at UC Davis have discovered that cell phones capable of
receiving multimedia files are vulnerable to stealth attacks that can
quickly drain the phones' batteries.
Hao Chen, assistant professor in the university's department of
computer science, led a team that discovered how cell phones connected
to data networks can be bombarded with stealth files that wake up the
phone from standby mode.
Even though the files are recognized as junk and immediately
discarded, their arrival can drain the phone's batteries up to 22
times faster than normal phone operation.
According to Chen, one individual with a PC and DSL connection could
theoretically attack as many as 5,000 phones at once. Chen said he
isn't aware of any attacks using such technology, but has notified the
major wireless carriers of his findings.
"It's just a matter of time until hackers discover vulnerabilities,"
said Chen, whose research looks at security holes in cellular phone
Joe Ferren, a spokesman for CTIA - The Wireless Association, a
cellular industry trade group, said he was not aware of the specific
threat, but said wireless carriers are constantly improving security.
"We realize these types of threats are always evolving, requiring
carriers to be vigilant, and they are," he said.
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