Security researcher Karsten Nohl has shown that if you send some mobile phones an SMS that appears to originate with the phone company, the phone will SMS back an error message containing sensitive info about its SIM. With this info, you can send another SMS that terminally compromises the phone, giving the attacker the ability to listen in on calls, read texts, and impersonate the phone's owner. He disclosed the vulnerability to the GSM association early, and on August 1 he'll present his work at Black Hat in Las Vegas. At the root of the problem is a reliance on an older, compromised form of crypto, DES:
For each message, the network and the phone verify their identities by comparing digital signatures. The message sent by Mr. Nohl deliberately used a false signature for the network. In three-quarters of messages sent to mobile phones using D.E.S. encryption, the handset recognized the false signature and ended communication.
But in a quarter of cases, the phone broke off the communication and sent an error message back to Mr. Nohl that included its own encrypted digital signature. The communication provided Mr. Nohl with enough information to derive the SIM card’s digital key.
Mr. Nohl said he had advised the GSM Association and chip makers to use better filtering technology to block the kind of messages he had sent. He also advised operators to phase out SIM cards using D.E.S. encryption in favor of newer standards. He added that consumers using SIM cards more than three years old should get new cards from their carriers.
Encryption Flaw Makes Phones Possible Accomplices in Theft
(Image: MTN SIM card, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from warrenski's photostream)
I have a 64GB iPhone, but I don’t like using iTunes to transfer videos to it because it is a hassle. I have this little $30 USB/Lighting flash drive that holds 32GB of files, including videos, photos, and songs. I plug it into my computer, copy over a bunch of card magic instruction videos, and […]
Researchers at UC Riverside and Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada have published a paper describing their ongoing success in setting a “transparent nanocrystalline yttria-stabilized-zirconia” into patients’ skulls, which reveal the patients’ brains so that the patients’ brains can be zapped with therapeutic lasers.
A pilot invented this $18 plastic hook for your belt/waistband that can tow a 25lb rollaboard around the airport behind you, leaving you hands-free as you maneuver the concourse.
Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]
Much of what goes into creating an amazing photo happens in the digital darkroom. Here’s your chance to master all things photo editing: the Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle, now available in the Boing Boing Store for just $29.99.Across 8 courses and over 41 hours of intensive instruction, you’ll learn the fundamentals of Adobe’s suite of photo […]
3D printers are hot, but they’re also pricey. While the prospect of cranking out everything we can dream up is enticing, cost is often one factor that keeps us from jumping onto the 3D printing train.Now, thanks to M3D, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can now get its flagship 3D printer–plus four reels of filaments–for just […]