Mobiles threatened by draining attacks

A computer science professor at UC Davis, the University of California’s College of Engineering, has warned over an unstoppable attack method used against mobile devices.

Hao Chen and a couple of first year graduate students, claim to have discovered serious vulnerabilities in the way internet-enabled mobile devices handle data downloads.

Hao believes that hackers could disable cell phones and PDAs by sending malicious packets of data, hidden among legitimate packets, instructing devices to ‘stay awake’. Such attacks would be silent and undetectable, draining the battery power of cell phones and PDAs before the end of the business day, the researchers claim.

At present, Hao warns there is no way to detect these digital wolves in sheep’s clothing.

“While the power of computer chips installed in electronic devices doubles every 18 months, the capacity of the batteries powering these devices does not,” Hao said. “Batteries represent a bottleneck in the technical revolution that allows us to connect wirelessly to and communicate via the internet through cellular communications.”

Hao said his team intends to develop ways to reliably and quickly detect the difference between attack packets and the normal packets of information feeding cellular devices.

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