“CyFi,” the screen name for a 10 year-old girl from California, stole the show at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas, drawing security experts from around the world.
“CyFi,” whose real name has not been divulged, made headlines with her presentation in which she revealed her discovery of a flaw in smartphone security. The discovery stemmed from her impatience in playing a game in which virtual crops had to grow. She discovered she could make them grow instantly by simply advancing the device's clock ahead.
The youngster reported that it was fairly simple to get around the game's security measures designed to detect such cheating. She said she repeatedly disconnected her device from wifi and moved the clock ahead in small increments.
Potentially dangerous flaw
Security experts say there is a lot more at stake than simply cheating at a child's game. They say it is these kinds of flaws that allow hackers to run their own code, taking control of a device.
While PCs normally run some type of anti-virus software, security experts worry that too many mobile devices are unprotected. And given the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the last two years, it's a good bet that hackers have taken note.
Some providers say they have that base covered. For example, Apple says iPhone users' data is protected with hardware encryption and enhanced data protection. The company says users can security access corporate networks with iPhones and iPads.
Makers of anti-virus products for PCs have also begun offering security tools for smartphones.
To keep their smartphones secure, consumers should:
- Set a password for the phone, in case it gets lost
- Download updates
- Treat your phone like you would a computer
- Be careful when downloading apps, downloading only from trusted sites
- Don't enter sensitive information when connected to a public wifi
- Enable a “wipe” feature on your phone, so you can remove data if you lose your phone