This 60 Minutes report should scare all smartphone users

This 60 Minutes report should scare all smartphone users
To show how easy it is to hack a phone, CBS News turned to its trusty weekly news magazine 60 Minutes. Last night's broadcast included a segment that surely raised a few eyebrows. CBS gave a brand new Apple iPhone to Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and at the same time it challenged the researchers at Security Research Labs to hack into the device.

The company breaks into devices to look for flaws before the 'bad guys' find them. This company has never met a phone it couldn't crack, and when asked if an iPhone is safer than an Android handset, one of the team members says that "all phones are the same." He also says that with the information that they can get from a hacked handset, the company can find out the whereabouts of the phone's owner, know where they go to work, spy on their phone calls, and read their texts.

CBS decided to see if Security Research Lab could actually hack into a handset and pull out all of this information. The network sent an off-the-shelf iPhone from CBS News in New York to Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and gave the guys at Security Research Labs the green light to do their thing. The only information that 60 Minutes gave the researchers was the phone number of the iPhone.

Almost immediately, Security Research Lab hackers were listening in on both sides of a phone call made by the reporter to the congressman. They also were able to track the congressman's movements and intercept and record his phone calls. This was accomplished by taking advantage of a flaw in Signaling System 7 (SS7), a protocol used to connect phone carriers around the world. And this is why the "which phone is safer" debate isn't always the right issue to be arguing about. The SS7 vulnerability affects all smartphone users.

Luckily, most hackers don't use SS7 to break into your phone. At least not yet. Lookout co-founder John Hering told 60 Minutes that every system can be broken into and that it is just a matter of knowing how to break into it. He says that there are only two types of companies in the world today. They are those who have been hacked, and those who have been hacked but don't know it.

Hering says that where most people go wrong when it comes to mobile security, is not thinking of their smartphone as a computer. To prove how vulnerable smartphone users are, Hering and a group of ace hackers got together in a hotel room in Las Vegas. Using a spoof of the hotel's Wi-Fi landing page, he cracked the reporter's handset, accessed her email, had her credit card numbers and more.

Hering points out that most smartphone users won't be subjected to the kind of attack that he put the reporter's phone through. But he says that if security issues aren't talked about now, the future will

Everyone who uses a smartphone needs to watch this segment. You can do so by clicking on the video below.


source: 60 Minutes via BGR

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