CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We have all learned not to broadcast our sensitive transactions via emails but you feel relatively safe having a private conversation or sending text messages back and forth.
We all do it, we have quick and private conversations on our phones, or we opt to send a quick text message to share information. It seems relatively safe but WBTV's Cyber Expert, Theresa Payton, says you may want to think twice before you talk or text.
Much of the technology that your cellphone conversation and text messages have to travel on is 10-20 years old. So, this older technology does not know how to protect your information.
The good news for you is that the good guys are constantly trying to think like the bad guys to expose weaknesses that put you at risk. Two cybersecurity, good-guy hackers worked on cell phone vulnerabilities for roughly a year designing ways to think like bad guys to see if they could steal text messages.
They recently accomplished this feat and showed how they could steal text messages from any phone within 20 seconds. Here is how the heist works:
1. The hacker sends a ghost text message to a target phone which does NOT show up on the phone
2. By sending the message to the target phone, they are able to obtain the unique id number on the phone
3. Once they grab the id number, the recorded phone conversations and texts from that phone
4. The demonstration took place on the GSM Network which houses roughly 80% of all phones globally. (GSM - Global System for Mobile)
What was the cost of the technology? You'll be surprised:
Roughly 36 British Sterling for the 4 Motorola phones ($56.09 US) and some sweat equity in programming.
The good-guy hackers did this as a wake up call to the mobile security industry. It should also be a wake up call to consumers, businesses, and government agencies.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF?
Avoid sharing sensitive information via text messages and your cell phone.
THIS WEEK'S WORD OF THE WEEK: DRIVESAFE.LY
This is the name of a product that encourages you to drive safely when those text messages and emails come flying in on your commute to and from work. It will read out loud your text messages and emails real time. You can even have a customized response. It works hands free. They have a free version with limited functions and then a pay-for version for BlackBerry and Droid. The iPhone is still being tested but they promise it is coming soon.
If you want to see the video where the cybersecurity researchers review their findings, there is a video posted at:
If you want to try out DriveSafe.ly go to www.DriveSafe.ly