Feeds

RIM tells users of bloodied BlackBerry to disable JavaScript

More Pwn2Own fallout

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Research in Motion has suggested BlackBerry users disable JavaScript to protect themselves against a critical vulnerability that allows attackers to remotely execute malicious code and access confidential data stored on the phone.

Monday's unusual recommendation came four days after contestants in an annual hacking competition exposed a serious security vulnerability in a fully patched BlackBerry Torch 9800. By exploiting a bug in the phone's web browser, they were able to write a file to its storage system and steal a complete list of contacts and a cache of pictures stored on the device.

“Users of BlackBerry Device Software version 6.0 and later can disable the use of JavaScript in the BlackBerry Browser to prevent exploitation of the vulnerability,” RIM said in the advisory. “The issue is not in JavaScript but the use of JavaScript is necessary to exploit the vulnerability.”

RIM warned that disabling JavaScript may result in a “diminished browsing experience.” Exploits don't allow access to email and other personal information on the BlackBerry file system, RIM said.

Unlike Apple's iPhone and Microsoft's Windows 7 Mobile, the BlackBerry doesn't come with ASLR, or address space layout randomization, which makes it hard for attackers to predict the memory locations of their malicious payloads, according to the hacking contestants, who claimed $15,000 in prize money for their exploit. The RIM smartphones also lack another protection known as data execution prevention and offer only a rudimentary security sandbox to isolate apps from more sensitive parts of the OS, they said.

RIM frequently markets the BlackBerry as a safer smartphone alternative that makes them more suitable for corporate networks, where security is at a premium.

The integer overflow that felled the BlackBerry was found in Webkit, the same browser rendering engine used in both the iPhone and smartphones that run on Google's Android operating system.

Members of RIM's security team are “investigating the issue to determine the best resolution for protecting” users. Affected models include the Torch 9800, Bold 9700, Bold 9650, Curve 9300, and Pearl 9100. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.