Android rootkits – malware on your smartphone

June 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Security News

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Many of you are probably familiar with the concept of rootkits – malicious software that lurks hidden at a low-level on your Windows or Unix computer, remaining undetected by conventional anti-virus software.


Although new rootkits can be prevented from infecting your computer, if you had any rootkits before you installed your anti-virus, they may never be revealed. This threat really began to capture the headlines a couple of years ago, and as a result security vendors like Sophos provided free anti-rootkit software for Windows users to check and clean-up their systems.


But rootkits aren’t just limited to conventional desktop operating systems.


Earlier this year we saw two scientists from Rutgers University discuss the possibility of smartphone rootkits, and now – according to media reports – security researchers are planning to demonstrate a malicious rootkit for Google’s Android operating system.


Trustwave’s Nicholas J Percoco and Christian Papathanasiou are planning to give alive demonstration at DEF CON next month of the kernel-level Android rootkit they have developed. Percoco and Papathanasiou claim that the rootkit – once activated – could be used to track the location of the mobile phone’s owner, read their private SMS messages, and redirect calls to bogus numbers.


Of course, all of this relies upon malicious hackers having been able to plant the rootkit in the first place on your Android phone.


And that’s quite a challenge for anybody who wants to spy on you.


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