Feeds

Security flaw creates Android, Palm Pre snoop risk

It's like James Bond! But not

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.