Daniel G. J.
August 4, 2013
It might be far easier for a criminal to take control of your smartphone and use it for crime than you might think. Security flaws in many of the popular smartphones make it extremely easy for criminals to redirect phone calls, listen to conversations, or commit payment fraud using your phone.
The encryption sequences that are supposed to secure the sim cards of many smartphones are very easy to hack. German cryptographer and hacker Karsten Nohl said the vulnerability exposes an encryption key that lets anybody that has it unlock your phone and take control of it.
KEY TO YOUR SMARTPHONE
All the hacker has to do to get control of the phone is send a text message containing some Java algorithms to your phone. The algorithms will then detect the key and send it back to the hacker. Nolan discovered this when he and his colleagues at Security Research Labs in Berlin examined the sim cards on 1,000 phones.
Nolan estimated that about half of the world’s mobile devices are affected by the flaw. He noted that newer smartphones don’t contain the flaw.
Nolan didn’t say whether he thought this flaw had been deliberately added to the phones or not. After all, we do know from previous Storyleak reports what hackers can find out from just your phone data alone. He did note that the flaw was not related to what’s known as ‘cloning’, which occurs when a crook copies your sim card. Instead, it’s a form of hijacking when a crook takes over your sim card and turns your phone against you.
Nolan made the revelation at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on July 31. Black Hat is basically a convention for hackers and cyber security geeks. They hold two of them every year: one in Las Vegas and one in the Netherlands in Europe.
From what Nolan told The Guardian newspaper, average people could get around this flaw by simply upgrading their mobile device. So it might be a good idea to go out and get a new phone if you haven’t done so. Changing your phone every year would be a good idea from what Nolan says.
Originally appeared at Story Leak .