Bad guys armed with computers might remotely and secretly drain the batteries of cell phones, a new study shows. By commandeering communications channels that cell phones use to capture images and video from the Internet, attackers might repeatedly awaken an idle phone from a low-power slumber into a state of readiness that saps its electric power.
In multiple tests on a Nokia 6620 phone, computer scientists Hao Chen, Denys Ma, and Radmilo Racic of the University of California, Davis used a fake server to repeatedly send information to the phone, depleting the device's battery in an average of 7 hours. The phone would ordinarily run for 156 hours on one charge. Tests on two other types of phones also resulted in dramatic drops in battery-charge duration.
The simulated attacks took place through two commercial–cell phone networks without triggering any alarms, the team reports.