2 billion mobile devices vulnerable: Black Hat report

2 billion mobile devices vulnerable: Black Hat report
2 billion mobile devices vulnerable: Black Hat report

Hidden controls found in a wide array of devices — from smart phones and laptops to embedded M2M devices and some cars — could be leveraged by attackers for wide scale exploitation, researchers from Accuvant Labs reported on Wednesday at the 2014 Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

The OMA-DM protocol, originally developed by the The SyncML Initiative, is an “amalgam” of standards; Accuvant's Mathew Solnik said, now used by carriers to do provisioning, accommodate software updates and manage faults and otherwise manage mobile devices. “The carrier requirements determine functionality,” noted Solnik.

Most devices use software and services for mobile software management provided by Red Bend Software, Solnik pointed out.  

“Basically it's provided as a binary blob to all manufacturers,” he explained.

Red Bend's website notes that it's the choice for “more than 100 leading manufacturers,” accounting for more than two billion devices, which used the company's “software and services for firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updating, application management, device management, device analytics and mobile virtualisation.”

But the OMA-DM protocol gives rise to some core vulnerabilities, among them, vulnerability in authentication, which could allow hackers to gain control of mobile devices. 

“A shared secret token is the secret sauce to the password,” said Solnick. “With knowledge of the IMEI/MEID [device identifier] and the ‘secret' an attacker can control the OMA-DM device.”

Accuvant's Marc Blanchou explained that would-be attackers can use a WAP push, sending a TXT message to a device via the wireless application protocol, and can access the full functionality of a device. Once access is gained, hackers can abuse the standard in a number of ways, for example, executing persistent man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.

The two researchers uncovered the OMA-DM's vulnerabilities by reverse-engineering embedded baseband and application space code, and deconstructing OTA communications, then implementing their own code.

First published by SC in the US.