Vulnerabilities / Threats
7/6/2011
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HP TouchPad, Smartphone Hacked

The WebOS mobile operating system platform is vulnerable to XSS, cross-site request forgery based upon a researcher's published proof-of-concept for an attack.

HP TouchPad: A Visual Tour
HP TouchPad: A Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and forslideshow)
A researcher discovered a zero-day flaw in HP's new TouchPad that lets an attacker inject code into the Contacts application in order to steal information from the device or to build a botnet.

Orlando Barrera--who late last week published a proof-of-concept for an attack that would exploit this vulnerability in WebOS 3.0--says his latest research, which uses a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack to inject code into the app, is related to vulnerabilities he discovered in an earlier version of HP's WebOS. Back in November, Barrera and fellow researcher Daniel Herrera reported their findings that the "Company" field in the Contacts app window was "unsanitized," which allowed them to inject code that ultimately grabbed the Palm's database file with emails, email addresses, contacts, and other information. They demonstrated at an Austin Hackers Association (AHA) meeting in Texas how this would allow an attacker to slip in keyloggers and build a mobile botnet.

"This [new flaw] is a similar vector ... the problem is the underlying WebOS architecture," says Barrera, who disclosed his latest findings at an AHA meeting last week. "Think of WebOS as a giant web application, [leaving it open to] security issues like cross-site scripting and clickjacking, all of which are potential issues you could find in the entire operation of the Web operating system and all of its apps and third-party apps."

WebOS is vulnerable to cross-site request forgery, as well, he says. "It's a really simple exploit platform," he says. "The only reason it hasn't been exploited before is market share, but now that HP is trying to get into the PC tablet market, it has a potentially larger market share and becomes more of a target."

Barrera says he published the XSS PoC because it shows how simple it is to exploit the platform, and he didn't want to provide clues to "script kiddies" on how to compromise a PDF reader on the device or to perform a buffer overflow attack on it, for example, he says.

"This is an entire OS--it contains user data like mail, contacts, passwords, contact information, videos," etc., he says. And the lack of input sanitization in some of the fields in the Contacts app leaves it vulnerable to malicious code injection and, ultimately, remote code execution.

"In theory, you could attempt to create a botnet by using this exploit against several WebOS users and injecting a JavaScript backdoor," Barrera says.

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.

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