Feeds

Single NFC bonk subjugated Samsung Galaxy SIII and slurped it out

Attackers groped about until they had total dominance

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

A Galaxy SIII running Android 4.0.4 was infected with malware over an NFC connection at a hacking contest in Amsterdam using nothing more than a bump in the dark.

Full details of the vulnerabilities exploited haven't been revealed by the team, who came from MWR InfoSecurity and were showing off at Mobile Pwn2Own this week, as they are giving Samsung and Google time to issue a patch. An iPhone 4S was also compromised via a WebKit bug during the competition between security bods.

The Galaxy SIII infection was accomplished using Android's Beam application to send a file, which is executed thanks to a buffer overflow attack, allowing the hackers to escalate privileges to superuser level and establish a network connection to a remote server. The assault hands over complete control of the device and allows the data within to be siphoned off.

Android devices with NFC use Beam as a simple file exchange mechanism, but they're not supposed to execute received files. The vulnerability probably extends to any other Android device running Ice Cream Sandwich with NFC enabled, and might well extend to Jelly Bean as well although the team admits that might be harder.

The attack is a two-stage process: one vulnerability is used to get the received file to execute, and a second tool is then used to escalate privileges and gain access to private data. The randomised positioning of critical software components in memory - a security technique employed by Android and many other operating systems - makes that escalation challenging; over a hundred attempts were required during the demonstration, but those attempts can be made after the infection and took less than a minute anyway.

Jelly Bean apparently has more memory locations at which components are stored, decreasing the chance of finding the exact data or instruction address needed to further an exploit, but the team doesn't know how much that helps, or isn't saying.

The details are promised later, once the vendors involved have had a chance to fix it. The NFC execution should be an easy fix, one would hope, but the other part of the attack may prove harder to mitigate against. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.