Channels ▼
RSS

Security

Mobile Insecurity


A researcher of the University of Luxembourg has demonstrated a new class of attacks against mobile phones at the security conference DeepSec in Vienna recently. Using a base transceiver station (commonly available for about 1000 Euro), he showed how common programming errors in the communication stack of mobile phones can be exploited to gain control over the devices.

Ralf-Philipp Weinmann found devastating flaws in a large percentage of cellular communication stacks. According to him, sufficiently motivated attackers are able to perform these attacks, which are almost undetectable. They allow to take over control of mobile phones in the range of the rogue transceiver, which may mean hundreds of phones at a time in crowded urban areas. Attackers hence are able to cause billing problems by either dialling premium numbers or sending text messages to premium services — or monitor the complete communications of the cell phone user.

Moreover, even eavesdropping on the surroundings of the cell phone is possible by making the cell phone pick up incoming calls automatically — without the user noticing. The attacking transceiver needs to be online for just a couple of seconds to perform the attack.

The University of Luxembourg, an international university focusing on research areas like Security in Information Technology, is working together with a number of vendors for both cellular communication chips and mobile phones. The objective is to fix the security flaws found and to prevent similar flaws from happening in the future. While programming bugs are inevitable, serious code security audit and exploit mitigations by the major baseband chip vendors help to reduce this class of security problem.


Related Reading


More Insights






Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.
 

Video