Hacking

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has determined that smartphones are vulnerable to a “slew” of security loopholes that could allow hackers to gain access. Specifically, user data, emails, and text messages could be susceptible. The results of the study were first announced during the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, California. 

Vincent Sritapan, a program manager at the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, told Fifth Domain that the vulnerabilities are built into devices before a customer purchases the phone. The flaws allow a user “to escalate privileges and take over the device.”

Researchers haven’t announced whether anyone has exploited the loophole yet, nor would they say which manufacturers have devices with the flaw. At this time, it’s unclear whether this issue affects both iOS and Android devices or only Android devices.

They did note, however, that the problem has been found in handsets offered by all four major U.S. cell phone carriers including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Other U.S. carriers are using the flawed devices as well.

A source contends that millions of users in the U.S. are likely at risk, although the total number is not clear.

Angelos Stavrou, the founder of Kryptowire, told Fifth Domain that manufacturers were told about the flaws as early as February, explaining: “This is something that can target individuals without their knowledge.”

The public is expected to learn more about this vulnerability in the coming days. With so little publicly known about this issue, this sounds like a great idea, don’t you think?