Mobile Device Security: The Matrix in 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Simon Heron

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I was just ‘playing’ with a colleagues mobile phone and struggling with what seemed to me a slightly arcane and not entirely intuitive user interface. 

However, that is UI’s for you, what seems obvious to one person seems hopeless to another. 

It did make me think however about that scene in the Matrix (the first film, I never did see the others) where our hero Neo is on the run (again) and just grabs a phone off some bystander and is immediately able to cancel the existing call and dial a new one.

Seemed totally believable at the time. I just wondered what the equivalent might be these days?

He grabs the phone, at glance he can see it is a smart phone and now he has to look more closely and piles into a lamp post.  Picking himself up and undeterred he sprints off but has to divert his glance to find where  to cancel the current call which results in tripping over a small dog. 

A smart roll and he is back on his feet and running again.  Having cancelled the call, he finds he is locked out, the call was an incoming call and the owner had applied a security code. 

However, we all know that the password would be 1111, so he is back in business but he has carefully to enter the code but the sensitivity of the keypad and the arrangement of the screen keys means that he gets it wrong twice and both times has bowled into people and now has them chasing him as well as the eponymous Mr Smith. 

He is not making any friends here.

Things are not getting any better but no problem, he stops and focuses and enters the keypad right and he is off again just before Smiths and bystanders catch up with him. 

Great, but this is a smart phone and the phone functionality isn’t on the front page but if you swipe to the right there it is, however he had to look at the screen to do this and went straight into a fruit stall. 

The stall owner joins the people who would like to have a word with him but he has got to the phone screen and rather than being presented with a dial pad,he has a list of favourites.  The keypad can be invoked using a key just to the left of the call key and just a quick inspection of the screen shows him where.  Great!

So, picking himself up off the little old lady he has just felled, feeling somewhat worse for the wear, and moving somewhat slower, he is off again. 

However, now he has three Smiths, two bystanders, the stall owner and probably the grandson of the little old lady he bowled over rapidly catching up but he has made a call to his team and help is on hand. 

Or is it, let us remember that smart phones are probably much more powerful than the computers that were around in the nineties and in the World of the Matrix, the computer is the Matrix so isn’t he just on the line to Mr Smith?

Thus ends the last great hope for mankind.  So what moral can we take from this sorry tale?  Beats me, all I know is that I still like MY smartphone, it just the others that are rubbish. 

Oh and do use a more complex password than ’1111′.

Cross-posted from RedScan

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