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Can text messages and e-mail sent from a cell phone be intercepted by someone else?

I read that voice data can be compromised on GSM and CDMA networks, but what about text messages and e-mail sent from a cell phone? Can they be intercepted by someone else?

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While this type of attack may be possible there are several significant technical hurdles that an attacker must overcome before being successful.

I would be more concerned with other types of attacks that have been proven possible through proof of concept. Such as:

1) In 2003 it was reported that an attacker could flood a phone with thousands of text messages. This would disable the phone and possible leave the owner with a bill for the thousands of messages. http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2003/1124comdex.html

2) Some phones and PDA phones allow you to download and save e-mail. If the device is stolen this mail can be easily retrieved by the attacker.

Over the next several years cell phones and other mobile devices will become bigger and bigger targets for attackers. The Gartner Group predicts that by 2005, 10 percent of attacks on corporate enterprises will be caused by infected mobile users (laptops, PDA, cell phones, etc.)

No matter what platform you use practice safe computing.

This was first published in September 2004

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