BBC builds spy apps for smartphones.

Don’t panic, Auntie Beeb hasn’t gone over to the dark side just yet. However, they have managed to highlight just how easy it is for computer coders with bad intent to steal private information from new generation smartphones.

In a recent experiment  the BBC had some pretty inexperienced coders create a crude ‘game’ for a smartphone. They build it  from readily available code snippets and it worked. However using other snippets they added functionality that allowed them to spy on anyone who downloaded the game.

The  information-stealing elements of the BBC’s spyware game were all legitimate functions used elsewhere by legitimate programmes. The programmers were successfully demonstrating how using standard code in this way makes  building malicious applications quite a simple task.

We asked Jason Dibley, Technical Director of London-based QCC Interscan to comment. Jason acknowledged the difficulty of policing mobile apps..

“Some senior managers know that ‘smartphones’ exist, but still rarely use their own for anything except traditional calls and the odd text message. Meanwhile their younger and more tech-savy colleagues have completely changed their working practices, and are storing lots of business critical data on their blackberries, I-phones and other devices. They download [apps] to help them work more quickly and productively, but in doing so, expose their business to potential data theft.”

 

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