Feeds

How to crash a phone by SMS

Broken message, frozen phone

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Black Hat Europe So now you can send an SMS and crash a mobile phone, so that the user is locked out.

Job de Haas, a security researcher at ITSX, has adapted a program called sms_client, which sends an SMS message from an Internet-connected PC, in which the User Data Header is broken.

During a presentation during the Black Hat conference last week, he demonstrated how a malformed message crashes a Nokia 6210 phone on its receipt. Once the message is received it is impossible to turn on an infected phone again.

The vulnerability is tied to the software used by a phone. The flaw affects Nokia 6210, 3310 and 3330 phones, de Haas has discovered, but not a Siemens phone he tried. Phones from other manufacturers are yet to be tested.

To fix the problem users have to put a SIM card into a phone without the bug. Alternatively if the SMS message is registered in a user's In-box this could be deleted with a SMS management tool on a PC.

To repeat the exploit requires knowledge of SS7 signalling and telco protocols to adapt sms_client into an attack tool. But given the power of the attack security through obscurity doesn't appeal. The kicker is that the modified sms_client makes it trivial to spoof the source of any attack.

Nokia told us that sending a message which freezes a phone is "something it encountered" before. The company is unfamiliar with the exploit uncovered by ITSX, which comes as a new twist even to clued-up Black Hat attendees. It promises to get us a more detailed technical response, and we'll update you when this becomes available. ®

Related stories:
Nokia 7650: smart phone, shame about the price
Nokia 3330
Microsoft and Vodafone launch mobile Outlook app
SMS pumps up Vodafone sales

Business drives the Wireless Web
GSM Association launches new standard for next-gen mobiles
SMS in action: road killer and life saver
SMS Me (email is Pants!)

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.