Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Security perspective . . .

GOT A SMART PHONE? If you do banking through it, or if you access sensitive data through it, be thou aware that your phone leaks — badly. Like really bad badly. According to Tom Simonite's article, "Eavesdropping Antennas Can Steal Your Smart Phone's Secrets" on the MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW site, the processors in smart phones and tablets leak radio signals that betray the encryption keys used to protect sensitive data.

At the RSA computer security conference last week, Gary Kenworthy of Cryptography Research held up an iPod Touch on stage and looked over to a TV antenna three meters away. The signal picked up by the antenna, routed through an amplifier and computer software, revealed the secret key being used by an app running on the device to encrypt data. An attacker with access to this key could use it to perfectly impersonate the device he stole it from—to access e-mail on a company server, for example.
• • • •
"[This] antenna is not supposed to work at this frequency, and it's been in someone's attic for years and is a bit bent," said Kenworthy, a principal engineer at Cryptography Research. "You could build an antenna into the side of a van to increase your gain—well, now you've gone from 10 feet to 300 feet."

300 feet? Great, if it's not Vickie winkling his nose into your PC, it's Vickie or some private-enterprise type raiding your phone.  Be careful, out there.

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