Scientists work on smartphone security

Oct. 2, 2012 at 3:41 PM   |   Comments

LIVERMORE, Calif., Oct. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've built an Android-based virtual network to study and help prevent disruptions to computer networks on the Internet.

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories in California have turned their attention to smartphones and other hand-held computing devices running the Android operating system to analyze large networks of smartphones and find ways to make them more reliable and secure, a U.S. Department of Energy release reported Tuesday.

"Smartphones are now ubiquitous and used as general-purpose computing devices as much as desktop or laptop computers," Sandia researcher David Fritz said. "But even though they are easy targets, no one appears to be studying them at the scale we're attempting."

Sandia cyber researchers linked together 300,000 virtual hand-held computing devices running Android, which dominates the smartphone industry and runs on a range of computing devices.

They said they hope the network, dubbed MegaDroid, will allow them to understand and limit the damage from network disruptions due to glitches in software or protocols, natural disasters, acts of terrorism or other causes.

"You can't defend against something you don't understand," researcher John Floren said.

The larger the scale of the test the better, he said, since more computer nodes offer more data for researchers to observe and study.

The work could result in a software tool that will enable the computing industry to better protect hand-held devices from malicious intent, the researchers said.

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