RSA Conference 2011: The reality of the mobile attack is becoming cheaper, easier and more accessible

News by Dan Raywood

The reality of how straightforward a mobile attack can be has been detailed at the RSA Conference.

The reality of how straightforward a mobile attack can be has been detailed at the RSA Conference.

In a presentation at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Zane Lackey, senior security consultant at iSEC Partners and Luis Miras, vulnerability researcher at Ringzero, highlighted how threats against the general mobile platform had increased over time.

Lackey highlighted how attackers originally had nothing to work with as they were restricted on cost and size capabilities and how there was no software available to intercept and hack mobile communications. “Now everything is there, handsets are open and you can run tools against it. They can buy the same phone as their target and refine attacks that way,” he said.

He also pointed to the 'basestation' development, which is used to intercept calls and is now available for around $1,500, weighs about a pound and uses open source software, so now anyone has access to this level of equipment.

Using the basestation, Lackey said that it had the capability to change the identity of a mobile country code (MCC) and mobile network code (MNC) and pretend to be a different operator, saying that this allows for easy interception of voice and SMS communication. “It will say do not use the A5/1 algorhythm and make a call through the rogue basestation, so it is very simple,” he said.

Asked if mobile attacks were going to be able to be applied by 'script kiddies', Lackey said: “The tools have been released so it depends on them, but you may as well treat it as that.”

Miras said: “You should treat the browser and code as you do with other business, as now the browser is the same on both the mobile device and the desktop.”

Chris Wysopal, CTO of Veracode, told SC Magazine that WiFi was increasing to higher speeds at a lower cost and Firesheep highlighted the problem with open and unsecured wireless networks. “A 3G connection is more secure than WiFi but it can be cloned with a malicious network created, it is in its infancy and not something that we have seen much of but it could happen,” he said.


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