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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Computer Consulting News: "Botnets" Provide New Issues for Wireless Users

In a world full of wireless networks and wireless phones, hackers are finding new ways to attack technology users with virus-like botnets that spread through text messages sent on smartphones, giving computer consulting firms yet more work to do with virus protection. This robotic network sends a text message to a user’s smart phone; thinking it is from a friend, the user opens the message and it looks through the phone system for sensitive information like credit card numbers, bank account statements and passwords.

Computer criminals are using botnets to extend violations to the world of text messaging, adding to a slue of other problems that have developed with the smartphone technology, almost faster than computer consulting firms and phone manufacturers can find solutions. Researchers in California at Time Security Labs found the new threat last week and deemed it “high risk.” Research in Motion, creator of the BlackBerry device and other companies including Skype have started to add instant messaging capabilities to all their smartphones, and the botnets problem should get worse before it gets better according to experts.

Attacks of botnets seemed to increase just as the instant messaging capabilities were introduced in the United States, as it first started in Europe. One of the reasons for the increase in text messaging is that it is lower cost than other phone capabilities, with some plans starting at just $2.99 per month. Besides being inexpensive, it is a very easy way for people, including regular consumers and business customers to communicate when they aren’t in one spot.

However, business have noticed that instant messaging can be distracting in the workplace as employees are interrupted by non-work-related messages and tempted to use IM during a meeting. Another issue of text and instant messages is storing them in order to document business information. Some companies are getting around this major problem by encrypting all data in the database and not just that which is in transit via other methods. However, this can be a costly process and requires typically hiring outside computer consulting firms to manage the process. The process of data storage can be a huge task for many computer consulting firms because of how quickly data builds up. And there is a chance that when storing these instant message and text message bits of data, a lot of useless personal information will be stored as well.

Computer hackers are aware that everyone from businesses to universities view text messaging and smartphones along with instant messaging as a very economical way to communicate, which is precisely why the botnet attacks were developed. Researchers have given information about hackers to federal authorities and an investigation is under-way.

Blogged By: Computer Consulting 101