Feeds

Phreakers will rape and pillage your mobile

Java flaws to blame, claims security bod

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Phreakers could seize control of users' mobile handsets, send arbitrary messages or render phones unusable because of a brace of Java-related security vulnerabilities, a security researcher warns. The problems have been demonstrated on a Nokia 6310i handset and might also apply to other phones running flawed implementations of mobile Java (J2ME).

Each of the vulnerabilities can be used to "completely break Java security on a mobile device and to obtain access to the phone data and underlying operating system's functionality", according to Adam Gowdiak, a security researcher at Poland's Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, who discovered the problems. Both vulnerabilities are implementation flaws in Java Virtual Machine developed by Sun Microsystems.

Gowdiak has demonstrated how malicious Java applications can do all manner of mischief on a Nokia 6310i phone. Exploits include: the ability to access and steal data from the phone (phonebook information, SMS messages, information about dialled numbers, etc.), sending arbitrary SMS messages to arbitrary phone numbers and transferring data to and form the net without a user's knowledge. Writing to the permanent memory of the a Nokia 6310i phone - creating a "backdoor" on a phone or making it unusable - have also been demonstrated by Gowdiak. The flaws are far from easy to exploit but their severity gives serious cause for concern.

Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish AV firm F-Secure, commended the quality of Gowdiak's research. "I'm really surprised these holes haven't made more noise, as everything seems to check out and these are really widespread problems, affecting almost a hundred different phone models out there.

Although he hasn't tested it, Gowdiak's reckons the vulnerabilities he has demonstrated on Nokia 6310i phones might also apply to mobiles from Nokia, Siemens, Panasonic, Samsung, Motorola and others underpinned by Java technology. Gowdiak outlined his findings at the Hack in the Box Security Conference earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "According to my knowledge, this is the first time, so serious flaws affecting mobile Java (J2ME) have been published," he told El Reg.

Gowdiak has produced a paper on is research available here (PDF). ®

Related stories

Bluetooth is attack vector for mobile phones
How to crash a phone by SMS
SMS phone crash exploit a risk for older Nokias
Attack of the clones
Israeli boffins crack GSM code

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.