Black Hat USA Conference To Focus On Smart Phone Security Threats

The Black Hat USA 2012 security conference is set to kick off with a focus on highlighting the vulnerabilities of mobile technology like smart phones.

Now in its 15th year, the Las Vegas conference draws experts from the technology and IT security realm, and with the boom in mobile technology of smart phones and tablets there will be plenty to discuss, PCWorld reported. The telephones people carry in their pockets today are equivalent to computers of just a few years back, and with a wealth of sensitive information and apps for online banking or other functions with personal information, security for these devices is a hot topic.

The security researchers speaking at the conference will highlight vulnerabilities in web applications and communications for these mobile devices. The technology has advanced so far that some mobile users can enact mobile payments by simply waving their smartphone over a special device that completes the transaction.

Charlie Miller, renowned Apple hacker, has found some glaring vulnerabilities that he plans to present at the Black Hat USA Conference, PCWorld reported. He found that some technology can be used to make the smartphones open web pages without user approval, creating annoying and often dangerous applications to open that can slow down the performance of the phone or invite viruses.

In some cases attackers are able to use the devices, known as near field communications, to gain complete access to the phone, Miller said. This allows them to steal photos and contacts and even send text messages or make calls.

The Black Hat USA Conference will also feature presentations on how vulnerabilities allow hackers to turn mobile phones into spying devices by tricking them into communicating with a rogue GSM station, which is a scaled-down version of a cell tower. These attacks don’t even need the rogue stations, and can be conducted using IP-based connections.

Mobile malware will be another focus of the Black Hat USA Conference, especially threats to the Android platform. Google has created an automated malware scanning service called bouncer that stops viruses from being uploaded to Google play, PCWorld noted.

The Black Hat USA Conference is expected to draw more than 6,500 IT security experts, PRNewswire reported. Speakers include the slate of original security experts featured at the inaugural 1998 conference.