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D. Researchers Uncover a Security Risk with Cell Phones

Narrator: This is Science Today. A professor of computer science and two graduate students at the University of California, Davis has discovered vulnerabilities in cell phones that send or receive multimedia files. The weakness was found in the multimedia message service protocol, or MMS. Professor Hao Chen says their study revealed the service could be exploited over the Internet and potentially render thousands of phones useless.

Chen: They could build something called a hit list of vulnerable phones that you can attack from MMS and they discovered that they could surreptitiously drain the batteries of the phones on a hit list. Our attack will try to prevent your phone from entering the standby mode.

Narrator: But does this type of study give away too much information to the wrong people?

Chen: It's beneficial to disclose vulnerabilities to the public at an appropriate time. So, an appropriate time would be after you have notified the manufacturers or the service providers of the vulnerabilities and give them time to fix the problem.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.