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A few ways to protect yourself against 'visual malware'

In light of the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s demonstration of PlaceRaider,  a malware app that uses a smart phone’s camera and sensors to build a 3D model of a location, smart phone users, particularly those in government positions, should be asking how they can defend themselves against this new type of "visual malware." Here are a few ideas:

First, be careful what you click. You might not think you are downloading malware, but that’s how 99 percent of malware gets onto personal computers -- you open an e-mail you shouldn’t, click on links you shouldn’t, etc. Seriously, just think before you click, people.

Second, you can disable your smart phone’s camera when not in use. You could do this in a few different ways. You could turn your smartphone off when you are not using it. Or you could physically obstruct your camera lens, such as with a piece of tape or by keeping it in a pocket instead of on your desk.

Lastly, you could regress entirely and get a 1G phone. This wouldn’t have a camera, or even a data plan that would enable you to click on bad links and get malware. Of course, most people would not want to exist at this level of functionality.

Given that these are listed in order of the impact they would have on the convenience of the user, I would suggest that the first one is the one we need to work on. Oh, and by the way, even though the Navy’s demonstrated this on an Android system, there is no reason to think that Apple smart phones wouldn’t be just as vulnerable, since the newer ones now allow programs to run in the background.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Oct 05, 2012 at 9:39 AM


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