Feeds

Security flaw creates Android, Palm Pre snoop risk

It's like James Bond! But not

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Security researchers have uncovered a flaw that creates a means to plant bugging software on Palm Pre devices.

The vulnerability means that the Palm Pre phone might be compromised through the receipt of a maliciously constructed vCard. A doctored electronic business card sent by SMS or exchanged could be used to place a backdoor on compromised devices that surreptitiously records audio and stored data before transmitting it back to hackers.

The flaw was discovered by MWR Labs, the research arm of British security outfit MWR InfoSecurity, a CESG-accredited firm that specialises in penetration testing.

MWR Labs discovered the security bug in May in the course of investigating rumours about smartphone security weaknesses. The firm informed Palm/HP of its findings at the time but is yet to hear back, prompting the decision to release limited details of the bug this week.

Alex Fidgen, a director at MWR, told El Reg that it had decided to withhold details of the flaw pending the availability of a fix.

However on Friday, following the publication of the initial version of this story, a HP/Palm rep got in touch to say “the current version of webOS [version 1.4.5] fixes the security vulnerability reported to Palm.”

An excitable press release from MWR attributes a quote to Fidgen describing the Palm flaw as offering a "James Bond scenario" for spying. Fidgen said the quote was a case of MWR's PR bods "getting carried away" rather than a genuinely held view.

MWR researchers separately discovered a flaw in the browser on Android handsets that might allow the harvesting of stored username and password data.

In a statement, Google said the vulnerability was not particular to its phones and had already been patched.

This is a bug which is not exclusive to Android and that can only be triggered if users visit a malicious website or access a malicious wifi network via their mobile phone.

We are not aware of any users having been affected by this bug to date, and it has been fixed in the latest version of our Android software. As always, mobile phone users can protect themselves by only visiting websites and using wifi networks they trust.

Fidgen confirmed the flaw had been addressed, adding that MWR's ability to find a brace of nasty bugs over just two days of research provided evidence that smartphone security was generally lacking.

Independent commentary of MWR's research can be found in a blog post by Sophos here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.