Zombie talk is all over the web and in the news these days. From reported “zombie” attacks to the latest titles at Netflix and Redbox, zombies have become a common word on the lips of the world. Now we are getting news of a new type of zombie, and the terrifying thing is: it is right next to you… You don’t have too much to worry about though; these zombies can’t attack you, because they are your cell phones.
In an independent report from researchers at Microsoft and Sophos Labs, evidence has been found that a group of criminals has secretly composed an android-based botnet, linking cell phones on the android platform to work together as drones – or zombies – in order to send out spam in the form of emails.
The spam being sent out is not new, it consists of advertisements for Viagra, Cialis, and the usual spam you might find in your inbox. Who is this person that transforms your cell phone into a zombie? Well, it turns out that it is likely the owner of the phone that has allowed the botnet/malware onto the afflicted device. Let’s say you are searching for a game or app to download on your phone. There are two types of the same app, one costs $3.99, the other is $.99. The 99 cent version is likely a pirated copy of the same app that also contains programming that can hijack the functions of your phone.
While Microsoft and at England’s Sophos Labs are confident that their study proves the existence of smartphone bots, Google, Kaspersky and various other internet companies are quick to refute this claim. An unnamed spokesperson for Google stated, “The evidence does not support the Android botnet claim. Our analysis suggests that spammers are actually using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try and bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they are using.
If the claim of zombie phones is actually true, this would be the first instance of a botnet running completely on a smartphone platform. Spammers have attempted for many years now to develop and implement a botnet on cellphones because they are highly powerful machines, they are on at all times, and there are over 1 billion of the devices that can possibly act as mindless slaves to the botnet’s creators.
It is no secret that – these days – the majority of cellular phone owners browse the internet and text more than making actual calls. With the growing number of apps and games that hit the Droid and iPhone Markets every day, it is no surprise.
This being said, it is also no surprise that phone service carriers are beginning to tweak their marketing strategies toward this new style of phone use. AT&T were the first to announce to the business and consumer worlds that they were moving to unveil their first round of data-only plans. These plans were prompted by the growing number of people using their phones only for text and data, and making phone calls through many of the web call options that are out there these days.
Realizing that they simply couldn’t compete with the web services offering calls for cheaper – or sometimes even free, depending on the site – AT&T knew that a move toward Data-Only was sure necessary.
The plans, expected to be introduced within the next two years, are designed to target the declining number of minutes used per month in current plans. Under the new plans, the term “data” would not coincide with its traditional definition – that is, it would not refer to text and internet usage only. The idea is to systematically phase out the term “minutes,” or any use of time spent on calls, and replace the metered time with the amount of data used by the calls. In-short, calls will still be able to be made, but would use a portion of your allowed data instead.
While the announcement has been made, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told the public on Wednesday June 6th, that while it is not a definite plan yet, he expects that people will be using data-only plans within the next 24 months.
While this move is still in its initial planning stages, it is a very logical goal for phone service providers who have been struggling to adjust to the ever-changing mobile market.
There is a chill in the air, a crispness that announces fall. The little ones are giddy with anticipation as Halloween draws near and the biggest decision of the year…