Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Smarter Security System for Smartphones

A company named PINoptic is claims to have developed a brand new picture-based security mechanism for smartphones to make the phones more secure. As opposed to a simple four-digit PIN number which is easy to copy or hack, this new system allows the user to create a pass code using images rather than numbers. “The images appear randomly on different numbers every time the user attempts to unlock the phone, thus making the phone 37 times more secure than a phone protected by a standard four-digit code” (Reardon 1). According to PINoptic, the software is essential for smartphones because of the secure files and information that can be viewed on a smartphone, including access to corporate networks, e-mail accounts, and corporate data. All of these files can help any thief begin the process of a personal identity theft. As smartphones become more and more popular among corporate circles, they are the next logical target for hackers around the world.
There is no questioning the fact that a purely random picture-based security system for phones would be much more reliable than a standard four-digit code, which any person can easily memorize. In fact, “PINoptic claims that any person who did not originally make the code would need to view the correct sequence at least ten times before attaining the ability to enter it correctly” (Reardon 1). The implications of people hacking into smartphones range from the not-so-serious problems, like friends playing jokes on each other, to the extremely serious effects of identity fraud. In either case, the original user of the phone would like to take any steps possible to prevent the unwanted intruders, and PINoptic’s system is a logical advance in smartphone security.
One instance of a possible problem from an intruder into a smartphone would be stealing contact information from phones and using it maliciously. “One such instance happened with the popular job search website Monster, where hackers stole contact information from users of the website. Although no resumes or sensitive data were taken, the hackers could contact Monster users and trick them into providing sensitive data” (Mills 1). By attaining sensitive information, like phone numbers or account codes, and portraying themselves as the original user of the phone, hackers can surely influence unsuspecting colleagues or friends into providing additional personal information, and therefore could cause numerous problems.
Needless to say, all smartphones can provide a hacker with sensitive data about the customer and allow for identity theft to take place. Allowing this data to travel in such a small device also opens the possibilities of hackers getting into lost phones, or even stealing phones from people’s pockets to enter the system. PINoptic’s system would thwart the hackers for an extended period of time; possibly for long enough that the owner could take a preventative action.
The true impact of a system like this is unknown, but it is a great idea that could revolutionize basic security measures as we know them today.



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