Saturday, August 15, 2009

iPhone/GSM phones vulnerable to SMS hacks

As promised, iPhone security expert Charlie Miller, along with colleague Collin Mulliner, demonstrated a vulnerability in the SMS messaging system which can ultimately lead to hacking of an iPhone. Miller and his cohorts identified similar flaws in the Android and Windows Mobile operating systems, though no complete exploits were demonstrated. However, security researchers Zane Lackey and Luis Miras also demonstrated that the vulnerability can affect any GSM phone, though exactly how each phone reacts to the vulnerability differs.

The problem stems from the SMS system. Phones have to accept SMS messages, and these security experts have found that carefully crafted messages can be interpreted as binary instructions instead of text. Some phones may see a scrambled message—the iPhone, for instance, will show a text with just a square—or may see nothing at all. Lackey and Miras showed an exploit for a Sony Ericsson phone that simply showed the message, "New settings received. Install?" The user might easily assume the data is from a legitimate source.

1 comment:

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