Rootkits on Smart Phones: Attacks, Implications and Opportunities

Jeffrey Bickford, Ryan O'Hare, Arati Baliga, Vinod Ganapathy, Liviu Iftode

Proceedings of the 11th International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile 2010); pages 49-54; Annapolis, Maryland; February 22-23, 2010.

Smart phones are increasingly being equipped with operating systems that compare in complexity with those on desktop computers. This trend makes smart phone operating systems vulnerable to many of the same threats as desktop operating systems.

In this paper, we focus on the threat posed by smart phone rootkits. Rootkits are malware that stealthily modify operating system code and data to achieve malicious goals, and have long been a problem for desktops. We use three example rootkits to show that smart phones are just as easily vulnerable to rootkits as desktop operating systems. However, the ubiquity of smart phones and the unique interfaces that they expose, such as voice, GPS and battery, make the social consequences of rootkits especially devastating. We conclude the paper by identifying the challenges that need to be addressed to effectively detect rootkits on smart phones.

Paper: [ PDF ] (© ACM)
Slides: [ Powerpoint ]
DOI: [ 10.1145/1734583.1734596 ]
Poster: [ PDF ]
Press and Video Releases: [ NSF Press Release, Rutgers Press Release ]
Selected Media Coverage: [ NSF News, MIT Technology Review, TechNewsDaily, SC Magazine, eWeek Security Watch, TechnoGadge, NJBiz, Info Security, Los Angeles Times, Information Week, UPI, The Hindu, ZDNet Asia, Sophos Security, National Geographic, Press of Atlantic City, Discovery News, Smart Planet, InfoSecurity (UK), Computer Weekly, ABC News ]

Papers page