Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile Security //

Cellular Network

End of Bibblio RCM includes -->
3/7/2018
08:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb

LTE Protocol Vulnerabilities Could Lead to ID Theft, Call Spoofing

Researchers at Purdue and the University of Iowa find that LTE networks have some serious protocol flaws that could lead to a host of issues, including identity theft, call spoofing and the spread of false emergency reports.

While carriers are involved in rolling out promises about new and whizzier 5G wireless networks at the recent telecom shows of the past weeks -- we're looking at your Mobile World Congress -- researchers at Purdue University and the University of Iowa have taken at look at the networks that we still routinely use -- and they aren't happy.

In a paper entitled LTEInspector: A Systematic Approach for Adversarial Testing of 4G LTE, researchers at the two schools uncovered some new vulnerabilities that affect all the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks that are now in use.

Researchers found that the attach, detach and paging procedures of these networks will allow connection without valid credentials being present.

An attacker could exploit this particular vulnerability to steal someone else's identity, send messages that would seemingly coming from someone else, and intercept messages meant for a user.

Additionally, attackers could spoof the location of a mobile device, or cause other devices to disconnect.

Another kind of possible attack could even inject false warning messages such as malicious Amber alerts or fictitious emergency warnings.

It appears that the basis of these attacks is a lack of proper authentication, encryption and replay protection in the protocol messages that are in use.

The researchers developed a testing framework they called LTEInspector that helped them find ten new vulnerabilities in 4G LTE and verify the nine that had been previously known.

They also built a test network with off-the-shelf hardware and an open source LTE software stack to test the findings, and directly verified eight of them. While this was good for the researcher's work, it shows that the same setup could be constructed and used for an attack by a determined adversary without undue cost.

LTEInspector has been open sourced on GitHub.

The researchers' finding may not cause any change to happen in 4G LTE. Previous flaws in the network that have been discovered are still present and widespread.


The fundamentals of network security are being redefined – don't get left in the dark by a DDoS attack! Join us in Austin from May 14-16 at the fifth annual Big Communications Event. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free!

It seems that carriers have a high inertia factor regarding any protocol changes needed on the networks. The carriers worry about backwards compatibility impacting their operations.

But some solutions -- the authentication relay attack described in the paper, for example -- do not require that major infrastructural or protocol overhauls be done. The authors even suggest in the discussion section that a distance-bounding protocol would work as a defense. Whether this will come to fruition remains to be seen.

Still, until the flaws in 4G LTE that they have shown are rectified one way or another, the authors have decided not to publish their PoC attacks. This seems merciful to the rest of us, especially as we wait for the 5G's arrival.

Related posts:

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Improving Enterprise Cybersecurity With XDR
Enterprises are looking at eXtended Detection and Response technologies to improve their abilities to detect, and respond to, threats. While endpoint detection and response is not new to enterprise security, organizations have to improve network visibility, expand data collection and expand threat hunting capabilites if they want their XDR deployments to succeed. This issue of Tech Insights also includes: a market overview for XDR from Omdia, questions to ask before deploying XDR, and an XDR primer.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2022-0624
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-28
Authorization Bypass Through User-Controlled Key in GitHub repository ionicabizau/parse-path prior to 5.0.0.
CVE-2017-20105
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-28
A vulnerability was found in Simplessus 3.7.7. It has been rated as critical. This issue affects some unknown processing. The manipulation of the argument path with the input ..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2f..%2fetc%2fpasswd leads to path traversal. The att...
CVE-2017-20106
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-28
A vulnerability, which was classified as critical, has been found in Lithium Forum 2017 Q1. This issue affects some unknown processing of the component Compose Message Handler. The manipulation of the argument upload_url leads to server-side request forgery. The attack needs to be approached locally...
CVE-2017-20107
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-28
A vulnerability, which was classified as problematic, was found in ShadeYouVPN.com Client 2.0.1.11. Affected is an unknown function. The manipulation leads to improper privilege management. Local access is required to approach this attack. The exploit has been disclosed to the public and may be used...
CVE-2017-20104
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-28
A vulnerability was found in Simplessus 3.7.7. It has been declared as critical. This vulnerability affects unknown code of the component Cookie Handler. The manipulation of the argument UWA_SID leads to sql injection (Time). The attack can be initiated remotely. The exploit has been disclosed to th...