SPECIAL REPORT: When Malware Attacks

SPECIAL REPORT: When Malware Attacks
Published: Jul. 11, 2013 at 7:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2013 at 12:40 PM EDT
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(WTVM) - A new tool that could soon be used in the fight against identity theft was actually developed at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

It uses human gestures to protect your personal information on your smart phone.

All it takes is a wave of your hand across your cell phone to protect your information from getting into the wrong hands.

You name it and a crook will find a way to steal your money, account information or your identity from your smart phone.

Attackers use malware, or malicious software.

Dr. Nitesh Saxena is an assistant professor of computer and information sciences at UAB. He says don't be fooled because malware comes in many different forms.

"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," said Dr. Saxena. "If it has malware it could access GPS, which is bad because it could read your locations and track your movements."

So Dr. Saxena's team of UAB researchers developed an app that could be the best defense.

It's 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 your hand in front of phone," said Dr. Saxena. "That tells the phone I plan to make a phone call. If malware on phone trying to make a call in a hidden manner, it will not be able to copy this human gesture."

Take a look at the app at work.

Let's pretend a crook somehow installed a program designed to make phone calls from this phone.

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

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

You still may have to wait a while: the program won't be released to the public for at least a year.

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