Feeds

Nokia decrypts browser traffic, assures public not to worry

It’s acceleration, not snooping, say Finns

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Just as Nokia announces numbers that look like it may avoid irrelevance, the mobile supplier has become embroiled in a privacy row centered on the behavior of its browsers.

The brouhaha hit the wires when Unisys Global Services India security architect Gaurang Pandya wrote up his investigations into the behavior of his Nokia Asha phone.

Discovering that browser traffic was being diverted to proxy servers owned by Nokia – a common behavior in the mobile world designed to improve browser performance on skinny mobile data links – Pandya began investigating what else was happening to his traffic.

The results are documented here. In brief, Pandya accuses the vendor of staging a man-in-the-middle attack against its own users: even for HTTPS traffic (his test case was https://www.google.com), he writes, the phone sends a DNS request to the Nokia-owned cloud13.browser.ovi.com domain.

This raised the question of how the ovi.com server was handling certificates. By packet-sniffing the traffic, Pandya identified Nokia certificates that the phone was pre-configured to trust – with the result that the substitution of the ovi.com server for Google didn’t throw out a security warning.

His conclusion is that this behavior gives Nokia full, unencrypted access to browser traffic.

According to TechWeek Europe, Nokia has agreed that the diversion takes place, to allow it to compress Xpress mobile browser traffic for acceleration. The company denies storing the data, and says that none of the traffic is visible to any of its staff.

“Importantly, the proxy servers do not store the content of web pages visited by our users or any information they enter into them. When temporary decryption of HTTPS connections is required on our proxy servers, to transform and deliver users’ content, it is done in a secure manner,” the vendor told TechWeek Europe.

The row comes as Nokia announced what looks like a turnaround, releasing financials showing a profit on smartphone sales, compared to an October forecast for a 10 percent loss. It announced fourth-quarter sales of 4.4 Lumia units and 9.3 of the low-end Asha smartphones. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.