Though very useful, even the BlackBerry has some security concerns. It is interesting to note that during the week of March 1, 2005, the Canadian military and U.S. security agencies commenced a one-year joint effort to make it and other PDAs more secure in the hopes that one day PDAs can be used for transmitting top-secret information.
Though the Blackberry device allows government officials and executives to make critical decisions using a wireless device in the palm of their hands even when they are away from their worksites, the security of PDAs, in general, came fully into question when in February, 2005, reports indicated that a cracker accessed personal information from Paris HiltonÂ’s PDA (a Sidekick II). The cracker obtained over 500 celebritiesÂ’ phone numbers and email addresses from her PDA and then posted on the Net topless photos of the hotel heiress and model.
It is interesting to note that on February 15, 2005, a PDA-cracking cybercriminal was taken to court, and the media questioned whether he was Paris HiltonÂ’s PDA-cracker. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Nicolas Jacobsen, aged 22, pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to one felony charge related to his intentionally gaining access to a protected computer and causing damage to it. JacobsenÂ’s crime spree began in late 2003 and ended when he was arrested in the fall of 2004. Though JacobsenÂ’s 2003Â–2004 cyber targets included Paris HiltonÂ’s T-Mobile Sidekick II as well as other T-Mobile users, he was not apparently connected to the late February, 2005, crack attack that resulted in HiltonÂ’s topless photos being shown on the Net.
The intrusion into T-MobileÂ’s servers by Jacobsen seemed to have resulted from the companyÂ’s failure to patch a known security hole in a commercial software package. For example, at least one Internet Website noted that anybody using a service to spoof caller ID could have exploited the flaw. Though T-Mobile agreed that the vulnerability existed, they said that the solution to the problem is a simple one. Users simply need to set their voice mail to require a particular password; by default, clients are not required to do this.
In July, 2003, the vulnerability was discussed in a Black Hat Briefing talk in Las Vegas. An SPI Dynamics researcher talked about how to exploit the Weblogic vulnerability, and, apparently, Jacobsen learned of the hole from an issued advisory. He then created his own 20-line exploit in Visual Basic and searched the Internet for potential targets who failed to install the issued patch. In October, 2003, Jacobsen discovered that T-Mobile was, indeed, one such place.
See PDA in Computer
(Personal Digital Assistant) A handheld computer for managing contacts, appointments and tasks. It typically includes a name and address database, calendar, to-do list and note taker, which are the functions in a personal information manager (see PIM). Wireless PDAs may also offer e-mail and Web browsing, and data are synchronized between the PDA and desktop computer via USB or wireless. If the PDA includes a phone, it falls into the smartphone category (see smartphone).
Newton Was the Pioneer
In 1993, Apple's MessagePad, more commonly known as the "Newton," was the pioneer in this field, and Apple CEO John Sculley actually coined the PDA term for a pen-based device. However, PalmPilots, introduced a couple years after, popularized the technology. When the BlackBerry offered synchronized e-mail in 1999, the PDA was on its way to becoming a mobile office.
Pen or Key Based
PDAs may use a pen or keys. With pen-based PDAs, users tap menus and enter text via an on-screen keyboard with a stylus that slides into a holder on the side of the unit. Lightweight, full-size, folding keyboards can be connected and used when a desk surface is available.
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