Hackers can use SMS messages to attack cell phones

Friday - 1/7/2011, 4:02pm EST

Hackers can disable your cell phone using just SMS messages.

Researchers in Germany have demonstrated this. It's because the phone in your pocket is really a miniature computer, and they're just as vulnerable as PC's to viruses and malware, Technology Review.

Using only SMS messages, two security researchers were able to force low-end phones to shut down abruptly and knock them right off their network.

The reason is network operators use small cell phone programs -- called binaries -- to do things like change the settings on a device remotely. The researchers used the same approach to attack phones made by Nokia, LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Micromax. They say they were able to create malicious SMS messages for each type of phone.

Successful attacks took no response from the user. Because feature phones are so common, the researchers say just one attack could take out a big percentage of mobile devices.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily Cybersecurity Update brought to you by Tripwire. For more cybersecurity news, click here.