MegaDroid Project Studies Smartphone Security

Oct 11, 2012

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have built a self-contained, Android-based network to study cyber disruptions and help secure hand-held devices.

According to the news release, the researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have connected 300,000 virtual hand-held computing devices running the Android operating system in order to better understand large networks of smartphones and find ways to make them more reliable and secure.

The project, known as MegaDroid, is expected to result in a software tool that will help model similar environments and allow others to study the behaviors of smartphone networks.

A key element of the MegaDroid project, according to computer scientist John Floren, is a “spoof” Global Positioning System (GPS). According to the press release, the researchers created simulated GPS data of a smartphone user in an urban environment. “The researchers then fed that data into the GPS input of an Android virtual machine. Software on the virtual machine treats the location data as indistinguishable from real GPS data, which offers researchers a much richer and more accurate emulation environment from which to analyze and study what hackers can do to smartphone networks,” Floren said.

“MegaDroid primarily will be useful as a tool to ferret out problems that would manifest themselves when large numbers of smartphones interact,” said Keith Vanderveen, manager of Sandia’s Scalable and Secure Systems Research department. Vanderveen said Sandia also plans to use MegaDroid to explore issues of data protection and data leakage.

Watch a video of Sandia’s researchers discussing and demonstrating the MegaDroid project.

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