On Your Side: New UAB app defends against malware

On Your Side: New UAB app defends against malware

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Crooks are always finding ways to steal your money, account information or your identity from your smartphone.

Attackers use malware or malicious software that comes in many forms according to Dr. Nitesh Saxena, Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at UAB.

"If you download an app it may look like a game but it may actually make phone calls to premium rate numbers and you'd be stuck with the bill on the numbers. If it has malware it could access GPS which is bad because it could read your locations and track your movements," Saxena said.

Dr. Saxena's team of UAB researchers have developed an app that could be the best defense. It uses a method called tap-wave-rub or TWR. To activate it, just make the gestures near the sensor that comes on most smart phones.

"If you plan to make a call, wave hand in front of phone. That tells the phone [you] plan to make a phone call. If malware on the phone is trying to make a call in a hidden manner, it will not be able to emmulate this human gesture," Saxena said.

The user will get a prompt before a call connects. The app blocks activity on the phone until it gets a gesture from the user. This is a completely different concept from the current forms of security software available.

"It will actually raise the bar against most forms of malware," Saxena said.

However the app does come with a disclaimer.

"There is always a little chance of error," Saxena said. "You must also pay attention to what you are downloading and what permissions are granted at the time of installation to fully protect yourself."

The app is not currently available for the public.

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