Smartphones Just as Vulnerable to Rootkits as Desktop PCs

Paul Lilly

Remember when cell phones were big, bulky, and functionally limited? How quickly they've evolved, and so too have the risks. Today's smartphones blur the line between cell phone and PC, and according to Liviu Iftode and Vinod Ganapathy, two computer science professors at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, smartphones are every bit as vulnerable to rootkits as desktop computers are.

"The motivation around our work is that smartphone operating systems are becoming just as complicated as desktop operating systems," Ganapathy said. "Our study has shown that rootkits are just as much a threat for smartphones as desktops."

What makes this particularly frightening is the difficulty in detecting rootkits. However, it's not yet time to hit the panic button. There currently are no known in-the-wild rootkits for mobile devices making the rounds, though it's entirely conceivable that could change.

"Our work is a call for defenses," Ganapathy added. "We should start working on defenses for such attacks before such attacks become widespread in the future."

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