When it comes to the world of cell phones, the smart phone market is the hot section right now. Whenever people think about getting a new phone, the first place they look is in the smart phone section. It is becoming so common that some of the special appeal is rubbing off. I guess the idea that you can walk around with a mini computer in your pocket is kind of appealing to people. And that’s exactly what they are. The latest smart phones are so powerful that they are being considered a mini computer. There are already smart phones out there that have dual core processors in them. We have just now gotten to the point where the average desktop computer has a dual core processor in it and now our phones do to. But the fact that they are like mini computers is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because we are able to get a lot more functionality out of our phones than ever before. We can have a conversation, check a map, answer an email, and look on the internet all while walking around town. It is bad because it means that our phones have a lot of the same weaknesses that our computers have.
Some of the most popular smart phones that are out on the market right now are phones that are based on the Android operating system. The Android operating system is a program that was created by Google to be the controlling force of a new generation of smart phones. It is a derivative of the Linux operating system which is also itself a derivative of the UNIX operating system. While the IPhone and Apple was the first to really make smart phones mainstream, Android phones are really starting to take over the market. So much so, that there is starting to be a large hacking community that is being built around the phones. And unfortunately this large community is being filled with both white hat and black hat hackers.
Tools used to dissect the Android operating system and the programs that run on it.
Since the hacker community around the Android operating system is starting to grow you are starting to see more and more tools being created for the task as well. But some of the tools that are needed to exploit the system are already built into the development tools. If you install Eclipse and do your Android development on it, you will see the debugger and several other aspects of the DDMS (the name of Androids debug mode). Once you start to get a look at these tools you will see that in most cases, to reverse engineer the system, everything that you need is right there. And if you need even more in depth detail of the operating system, you can always go look at the source code. It is available for you to read and analyze. And as we said earlier, there are already plenty of programs out there that will help you reverse engineer the apps that are able to run on Android based phones.
Where the problems lie
The open source nature of the Android operating system is both a good and bad thing. Because of the ability to be able to use easy to access tools to see what is under the hood and the source code being available, it is often a race to see who gets the exploits first. This race is between the good guys and the bad guys. But that happens with closed source software as well. it is just a little bit harder. But the possibility does still remain that someone could be able to cause damage to your phone by finding one of these exploits.
The exploits are easily able to get through because Google is not as thorough with its apps store as other app stores are. With Apple, there is a long process in getting your app approved to sell on their marketplace. With Google it is a lot easier and they rely more on the community to check the safety of the apps that are in the marketplace. A system like this does lead it to be open for problems and there have been apps found in the apps store that were malware ridden. That is why you must be careful when you are installing new apps from the Google marketplace.
Overall there is both a good side and a bad side to the new emergence of smart phones in the market place. But the bad side can be easily tempered by being careful with what you install. While the problems happen more often on Google Android phones, Apple’s IPhone have also had some malware problems as well.