Build Up Your Phone's Defenses Against Hackers
By KATE MURPHY January 25, 2012
Chuck Bokath would be terrifying if he were not such a nice guy. A jovial senior engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, Mr. Bokath can hack into your cellphone just by dialing the number. He can remotely listen to your calls, read your text messages, snap pictures with your phone's camera and track your movements around town - not to mention access the password to your online bank account.
And while Mr. Bokath's job is to expose security flaws in wireless devices, he said it was "trivial" to hack into a cellphone. Indeed, the instructions on how to do it are available online (the link most certainly will not be provided here). "It's actually quite frightening," said Mr. Bokath. "Most people have no idea how vulnerable they are when they use their cellphones."
Technology experts expect breached, infiltrated or otherwise compromised cellphones to be the scourge of 2012. The smartphone security company Lookout Inc. estimates that more than a million phones worldwide have already been affected. But there are ways to reduce the likelihood of getting hacked - whether by a jealous ex or Russian crime syndicate - or at least minimize the damage should you fall prey.
As cellphones have gotten smarter, they have become less like phones and more like computers, and thus susceptible to hacking. But unlike desktop or even most laptop computers, cellphones are almost always on hand, and are often loaded with even more personal information. So an undefended or carelessly operated phone can result in a breathtaking invasion of individual privacy as well as the potential for data corruption and outright theft.