Smartphones become a botnet target

Michael Carroll
09 Mar 2010

Mobile phones could be the next target for computer hackers using botnets, after a computer security firm proved the malicious code can be installed in smartphones.

Security outfit TippingPoint say installing botnets in smartphones is a relatively easy task, after already installing corrupted software on nearly 8,000 of the mobile devices, via a downloadable application.

The firm says that while high-end operating systems including Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android haven’t been a target for botnet creators so far, the proliferation of its WeatherFirst application among smartphone users shows it is easy to spread a botnet through smartphones.

Some 7,800 users downloaded the application from a number of app stores. While the app pretended to be a weather forecasting tool, it actually relayed data about the customer’s location and phone numbers back to TippingPoint.

The firm says the capabilities could easily be taken further, by writing code that logs keypad presses, steals files from the phone, and sends erroneous emails.

Botnets are a growing problem for the connected world. They link hacked computers together in a network that allows the botnet’s creator to send spam e-mail and steal information including passwords and bank details.

Authorities have recently stepped up their efforts to crack down on Botnet creators, after a series of high-profile examples.

Last week Spanish police arrested three men suspected of operating the Mariposa botnet, which had infected around 13 million computers in 190 countries before it was shut down in December.

Microsoft announced a fortnight ago it had been given legal clearance to shut down another botnet, named Waledac

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