Cell Networks Vulnerable To Denial-of-Service: Researchers

A new study says that a single hacker with a broadband connection could launch a successful denial-of-service attack via text messaging that could shut down cellular networks.

October 6, 2005

1 Min Read
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Cellular networks could be brought to their knees by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks launched via text messaging systems, a Penn State study released this week has found.

The vulnerability is caused by the fact that text messaging services are accessible through the Internet, according to a New York Times report. Patrick D. McDaniel, a computer science professor at Penn State was quoted by the newspaper as saying that a single hacker with a broadband connection and a lot of mobile phone numbers could issue large numbers of messages that would then bring down the cellular network.

Specifically, if the hacker pushed 165 messages a second through the cellular network, "you can congest all of Manhattan," the Times quoted McDaniel as saying.

While the article quoted a spokesman for Sprint as saying that such attacks could be repelled, the study claimed that all the cellular operators are vulnerable to such an attack.

The Times said that the researchers proved the vulnerability by experimenting with their own cell phones."We were very, very careful. We never sent more traffic than was necessary," The Times quoted McDaniel as saying.

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