Newsletters
News & Information for Technology Purchasers NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
This ad will display for the next 20 seconds. Click for more information, or
Home Enterprise I.T. Cloud Computing Applications Hardware More Topics...
UCS Invicta: Integrated Flash
Deploy flash memory technology to
deliver peak workload performance.

Find out more>>
Mobile Tech
Gartner's #1 for endpoint backup
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
SIM Card Flaw Leaves 750 Million Phones at Risk

SIM Card Flaw Leaves 750 Million Phones at Risk
By Seth Fitzgerald

Share
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Share on Google Plus

Even though a large portion of the phones tested did not accept an SMS message pretending to be from the phone's wireless carrier, many of them did, and in doing so the phone frequently provided the SIM card's cryptographic signature. Because they used weak encryption, the signatures were quickly cracked. That then provided a way to download a virus.
 



A German security researcher has found a major flaw in the type of encryption that many cell phone SIM cards use.

According to researcher Karsten Nohl, the DES (data encryption standard) protocol which has been around since the 1970s is weak against attacks, despite it still being used on half of all SIM cards.

Nohl, who will be presenting his findings at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next week, tested 1,000 SIM cards over a two-year period and has come to the conclusion that as many as 750 million cell phones globally could be vulnerable to these relatively easy attacks.

The two largest carriers in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T, both reportedly have said they have moved away from DES encryption and their SIM cards are not vulnerable to the flaw.

The Attack

By looking at the security features present on the test phones, he discovered that in a quarter of them that use the older encryption standard, a hacker could exploit carrier text messages. Cell phone carriers frequently send out text messages to phones, and Nohl was able to trick devices into seeing him as a carrier. After doing so, the phone accepted a text message and replied with the SIM card's 56-digit key.

Once hackers have access to a SIM card's unique key, they are able to take over the device. Nohl said hackers with a SIM key are able to do practically anything they want with the phone.

"We can remotely install software on a handset that operates completely independently from your phone," Nohl said. "We can spy on you. We know your encryption keys for calls. We can read your SMS's. More than just spying, we can steal data from the SIM card, your mobile identity, and charge to your account."

Even though a large portion of the phones that Nohl tested did not accept the message pretending to be from the carrier, many of them did, and in doing so the phone frequently provided a cryptographic signature. The issue with the signatures used by the SIM cards is that Nohl was able to crack them in under a minute.

Breaking the encryption key gave Nohl access to the phone, allowing him to download a virus onto the SIM card that would eavesdrop on calls, collect data, and send messages or calls.

Fixing the Vulnerability

Nohl has yet to release the specifics of his research to the public but he has already notified the GSM Association about his findings. The International Telecommunications Union, a sub-group of the United Nations, said the research was "hugely significant."

Wireless telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said most people do not add virus protection to their cell phones, and when combined with weak encryption security, phones are vulnerable devices.

When it comes to fixing the problem, which potentially affects more than 750 million devices, Kagan said there were a few things that must be done.

"The solution has to come from many areas," Kagan told us. "One is to continually upgrade SIM cards. Two is to have security protection on the networks, which we do have. Three is to personally protect our devices with protection software like we do on our computers."
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Andreas:

Posted: 2013-07-23 @ 6:30am PT
Can you say fear mongering?



AdvertisementToday's CIO needs to adopt an "Everyone's IT" approach to leadership, embracing technology to increase enterprise agility & collaboration. View the free Gartner research report to learn how to adapt your IT leadership style to today's business standards.


 Mobile Tech
1.   Screen Troubles Briefly Slow iPhone 6
2.   Bounty Offered for Oculus Rift Bugs
3.   Glass Adds Voice Access to Contacts
4.   Samsung, B&N Partner on Nook Tablet
5.   Acer Desktop Box Rides Chrome Wave


advertisement
HTC One M8 Windows Phone Unveiled
Can be POS device for small business.
Average Rating:
Android 'Fake ID' Puts Millions at Risk
Users: stick to apps from Google Play.
Average Rating:
Researchers Tout Battery Breakthrough
Lithium anode could triple capacity.
Average Rating:


advertisement
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Researchers Find Malicious Android Apps Can Hack Gmail
A new study shows that a weakness in the Android mobile operating system can be used to steal sensitive, personal info from unwitting users. Gmail proved to be the easiest app to attack; Amazon, the hardest.
 
UPS Stores in 24 States Hit by Data Breach
Big Brown has been breached. UPS said that about 105,000 customer transactions at 51 of its UPS Store locations in 24 states could have been compromised between January and August.
 
Cost of Target Data Breach: $148 Million Plus Loss of Trust
The now infamous Target data breach is still costing the company -- and its shareholders -- plenty. In fact, the retailing giant forecast the December 2013 incident cost shareholders $148 million.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
Acer's New Desktop Box Rides the Chrome OS Wave
Filling out its Chrome OS line, Acer is following the introduction of a larger Chromebook line earlier this month with a new tiny $180 desktop Chromebox and also a smaller Chromebook.
 
Feds OK $2.3 Billion IBM-Lenovo x86 Server Deal
IBM and Lenovo are celebrating U.S. approval of their x86-based server deal, having cleared some major security hurdles. The deal makes Lenovo a major player for enterprise data centers.
 
Three New Lenovo PCs Aimed at Business Users
With businesses wanting computing solutions that do more for less money, Lenovo has unveiled three new desktop PCs that it says offer solid computing at a budget-minded price.
 

Mobile Technology Spotlight
Screen Shortage Briefly Puts Brakes on iPhone 6
RAM? Check. Antenna switch? Check. Screen? Oops. Parts suppliers for Apple have found themselves facing a shortage of screens for the new iPhone 6 as next month's release date for the new smartphone looms.
 
Bounty Offered to Coders for Oculus Rift Bugs
Coders who find bugs in software for the Oculus Rift VR immersive headset could receive a reward of at least $500 under Facebook's White Hat bounty program. Facebook acquired Oculus in March.
 
Google Glass Adds Voice Access to Phone Contacts
The latest update to Google Glass will let users access their top 20 phone contacts with voice commands alone. A user can then choose a phone call, Google hangouts, e-mail or text messaging.
 

Navigation
NewsFactor Network
Home/Top News | Enterprise I.T. | Cloud Computing | Applications | Hardware | Mobile Tech | Big Data | Communications
World Wide Web | Network Security | Data Storage | CRM Systems | Microsoft/Windows | Apple/Mac | Linux/Open Source | Personal Tech
Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.