August 30, 2006

Stealth Attack Drains Cell Phone Batteries

Following McAfee's SMSishing warning/scare earlier this week of hackers sending out SMS messages to mobile users - coaxing them into downloading unsuspecting software containing Trojan horse viruses - today, Science Daily reports on "stealth attacks" that drain cell phone batteries. [via digg]

"Cell phones that can send or receive multimedia files could be targeted by an attack that stealthily drains their batteries, leaving cellular communications networks useless, according to computer security researchers at UC Davis, in a lab test.

Chen, and graduate students Denys Ma and Radmilo Racic, found that the MMS protocol, which allows cell phones to send and receive pictures, video and audio files, can be used to send packets of junk data to a cell phone. Every time the phone receives one of these packets, it "wakes up" from standby mode, but quickly discards the junk packet without ringing or alerting the user. Deprived of sleep by repeated pulses of junk data, the phone's batteries run down up to 20 times faster than in regular use."

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