Feeds

Tracking Android phones is easy, says researcher

Assisted-GPS a boon for surveillance

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

To save time, battery life and processor cycles, smartphones don’t rely on “pure” GPS to fix their locations – they get help from location data in the mobile network. Research presented at Black Hat in Las Vegas last week cautions users that this represents a serious security vulnerability.

Under A-GPS (Assisted-GPS) schemes, the network can send current satellite location and time to the receiver, letting it acquire the signals more quickly; or the device can provide its GPS signal data to a server in the network for faster processing. Either way, the technology depends on the handset asking the network for help - and when that happens, location data is exchanged over the network.

The problems, according to University of Luxemboug researcher Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, are that requests for help are sent in the clear and are apparently easy to hijack.

For example, if an attacker had access to a WiFi network the phone connected to, its assistance request could be captured, and redirected to the attacker’s server. The attacker would now know where the phone is, and worse, that redirection would stay in place wherever the phone went in the future.

According to Technology Review, Weinmann described the attack as “rather nasty” since “if you turn it on just once and connect to that one network, you can be tracked any time you try to do a GPS lock”.

Because the processing is often handed off to the device’s main processor, Weinmann says, it could also act as a gateway for other attacks, from crashing the target device to planting malware. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.