Motorola's new Moto X phone worries IT security pros

Always-on microphone, data-hungry personal digital assistant offer hackers best targets

The new Moto X smartphone, the flagship smartphone for Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit, comes with all kinds of consumer friendly features, such as a personal digital assistant that can guess what information or services users want and an always-on microphone.

But these same features can pose a security nightmare for IT managers, according to analysts consulted by CIO Magazine.

"It's engineers gone wild. The engineers are [saying], 'Oh, wouldn't this be a really cool idea,' but don't think through the repercussions," said Roger Entner, principal analyst for Recon Analytics.

The always-on microphone enables users to activate it through trigger words, such as 'OK Google Now,' in order to instruct the phone to make phones calls or access services and features.

The microphone and the data collection by the personal digital assistant will make attractive targets for hackers and cybercriminals who are already targeting Android smartphones with malware.

Once a Moto X smartphone is infected with malware, "all bets are off, and all these lovely sensors become a continuous sound and video information-gathering tool on your designated target," warned Kurt Stammberger, vice president of market development for Mocana.

In addition, Moto X enables hands-free authentication through a plastic token that can be attached to clothing and communicate with the smartphone via near field-communication technology. "I'm sure someone ... will figure out a workaround," said IDC analyst William Stofega.

Entner concludes: "I would not recommend the Moto X to corporate clients until we have a really good understanding and assurances from Google and Motorola on how to combat potential mischief being done with these capabilities."

For more:
- read the CIO article
- check out the Moto X specs

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