Two undergraduate students, Jeffrey Bickford (Rutgers College class of 2009) and Ryan O'Hare (School of Engineering class of 2009), who work with DCS faculty Liviu Iftode, Vinod Ganapathy, and recent Rutgers Ph.D. graduate Arati Baliga on cell phone security research, were recently awarded a best poster award at the Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium, held at Columbia University and sponsored by the Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal and Engineering Student Council. They presented their poster, entitled "Rootkits: Now a Threat to Smartphones," at this symposium on April 5th.
Their work explored the threats of rootkits (which are stealthy malware that operate by compromising the operating system and previously targeted desktop computers) when deployed on devices such as smart phones. Examples of attacks that are enabled by such rootkits include:
(1) a remote attacker snooping on a victim's meetings. Everything that is said at the meeting is transmitted to the attacker via voice over the victim's compromised smart phone. The stealthy nature of rootkits means that the victim will not even realize that the victim's phone has been compromised.
(2) a remote attacker snooping on the victim's whereabouts. The attacker achieves this by stealthily reading GPS coordinates from the victim's cell phone.
(3) exhausting the phone's battery. This attack will cause the victim's phone's battery will die much more quickly, meaning that the victim may not be able to place calls when he/she most wants to.
This work was supported in part by Vinod's and Liviu's NSF grant CNS-0831268.
Congratulations, Jeffrey and Ryan! Congratulations, Arati , Vinod and Liviu!