Feeds

How to crash a phone by SMS

Broken message, frozen phone

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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!)

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.