Stumped on Security
The overall lack of mobile phone security so far is one of the first issues Traynor and his team are trying to tackle. Right now, they say, proper antivirus protection would drain too much of a phone's battery and thus prove to be unpractical. Add in the fact that most people tend to be trusting when it comes to voice technology, and you have the potential for disaster.
"Most people have been trained to enter social security numbers, credit card numbers, [and] bank account numbers ... over the phone while interacting with voice response systems," says Tom Cross, an IBM Internet Security Systems researcher also involved in the research. "Criminals will exploit this social conditioning to perpetrate voice phishing and identity theft."
As intense as it all sounds, there's likely no cause for panic. The researchers point out that the relatively closed nature of cellular networks compared to the Internet will help carriers combat ill-intended tactics. They also note that they've seen no evidence of these types of hacks actually being plotted yet.
Rather, they're looking at the ripe environment as an opportunity to put up protection before it becomes too late.
"Users want to avoid the spam crisis that has inundated email," Cross says.