Tag: nfc technology security

Mobile security technology provides a malware protection boost

A new form of tech developed by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers is simple but effective.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have now come up with a new form of mobile security protection that uses certain simple but highly effective techniques that are able to stop sophisticated malware from sneaking their way into smartphones in order to attack them.

The development of this type of protection against mobile malware has become vitally important.

As well over half of all American adults now have smartphones, mobile security has become critical to providing protection against malware and other forms of cyber attack. While it is well recognized that computers such as laptops and desktops require this type of protection – typically in the form of firewalls and antivirus programs – many mobile device owners don’t realize how vulnerable their smartphones truly are. Moreover many of the apps that are available to protect devices take up too much space and require too much power.

This new mobile security technology has been developed to overcome those problems for improved protection.

Mobile Security - Malware ProtectionThe new form of mobile malware defense technology was revealed in St. Louis at the IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications. As smartphones become more important and more commonplace, they have become prime targets to people who would seek to use them for malicious activities. This has caused an explosion in malware that can enter into mobile devices by way of any number of sources.

Primarily, this involves hidden malicious codes buried inside downloaded apps. Once they have been installed into mobile technology devices, there are various ways in which it can then exploit the gadget. This can include learning sensitive personal information about the user, taking over the camera to spy on the user, or even making premium rate phone calls without the user ever being aware that this is occurring.

It may even activate the NFC (near field communication technology) in the device for an entirely new form of mobile security problem – scanning for nearby credit cards that are NFC enabled for contactless payments. The researchers have come up with a way to more effectively block this type of digital invasion.

NFC technology security tested in shopping cart study

A hidden antenna was used by researchers to test the ease of sensitive customer data theft.

A paper was recently published, entitled “Eavesdropping near field contactless payments: a quantitative analysis”, which detailed a study in which researchers examined mobile safety attacks through NFC technology security meant for contactless payments transactions.

The researchers made an antenna that they hid on shopping carts using low cost electronics.

Their explanation for this effort was to test NFC technology security with a near field communication inductive loop antenna, which was employed for mimicking an ISO 14443 transmission. Then, in order to be able to actually “eavesdrop”, there was a second, identical inductive loop antenna that was installed onto a shopping cart, which they modified in order to transmit in a way that was like an antenna.

Even though NFC technology security has been touted as safe, researchers found the opposite.

NFC Technology SecurityThe researchers in this study found that although near field communication based contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom and Europe, and that consumers are trusting this tech as safe, these transactions are actually more vulnerable than had previously been thought.

The belief that there could be problems is not new as some had already been pointing out certain vulnerabilities – three, in fact – as early as 2008. Since that time, hacking into near field communications transmissions for payments and directly relaying, skimming, or eavesdropping on sensitive data transmissions from customers has been in the spotlight.

Until now, services had not known how to make this tech both simple and reliable. This is how these transactions are now often viewed. However, these researchers, who are from the University of Surrey, have now looked further into the safety of the tech through the use of cheap and easily accessible electronics from stores. They were able to measure the distance, success rates, and a number of other factors.

What they showed, was that NFC technology security isn’t as high as some might think. They determined that if an attacker with the same equipment was to head out and “shop” for a consumer’s payments data, it would not be difficult for a cyber attack to occur through the use of these electronics, while pointing a shopping cart at the victim as he or she pays for the purchase.