Cell phones these days do more than just let you talk to other people. They include digital cameras, the ability to record and play video, MP3 players, processors powerful enough to play games, and a great deal of memory. In fact, most cell phones are at heart computerscomputers that are surprisingly powerful and that pack more power and memory than large computers of a dozen years ago.
And where there are computers, there are hackers. As cell phones become increasingly complex and powerful, they become more and more vulnerable to viruses and hackers. And as they get more powerful, they have more data that hackers want to use. For example, B-list celebrity Paris Hilton had her cell phone hacked and her personal address book and intimate photos on the phone were made available to the world when they were posted on the Internet.
Cell phones make inviting targets for several reasons. One is that they tend to have personal information available on them. Another is the always-on nature of cell phones. And because they were designed for communication, there are a variety of ways for intruders to try to get into the phones.
One of the primary ways in is via a technology called Bluetooth, which is designed to let devices easily connect to one another and establish ad-hoc networks so phones can communicate with one another without having to go through a central server.
This ease of communications leaves open security holes, and hackers have found ways to crawl in. To date, cell phone attacks and viruses have been sporadic, with nowhere near the ubiquity of attacks on computers. But that could well change in the future.
The danger goes beyond personal privacy and security. Cell phones are ubiquitous in corporations, and a surprising amount of corporate information can be found on them. In addition, some corporations have begun to develop ways for their employees to tap into corporate networks with cell phones or to synchronize information between a cell phone and corporate headquarters. That means a wily hacker could do more than just steal personal information by hacking into a cell phonehe could steal corporate secrets as well.