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

At Black Hat, Mobile Devices Under The Microscope

Security researchers find growing numbers of security vulnerabilities in smartphones

BLACK HAT USA 2011 -- Las Vegas -- It's often said that hackers target the industry's most popular platforms and applications. As the smartphone phenomenon changes both consumer and corporate environments alike, then, it's not surprising that both hackers and security researchers were drawn to mobile devices here at this week's Black Hat conference.

Click here for more of Dark Reading's Black Hat articles.

The Black Hat conference featured an entire track -- five sessions -- on mobile vulnerabilities, each of which offered a look at newly discovered security flaws in devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones, and especially Androids.

"The mobile environment is becoming increasingly attractive to malware authors," said Neil Daswani, CTO of anti-malware service provider Dasient, in his presentation on mobile malware. "And the opportunities are only growing."

Harry Sverdlove, CTO of security software vendor Bit9, agreed. "Mobile is the wild, wild west for hackers right now," he said. "As mobile devices become the endpoint, that will become the most vulnerable spot."

Earlier this week, researchers from Lookout Mobile Security published the findings of a study that indicates Android users are two-and-a-half times as likely to encounter malware today than they were six months ago.

And at the show, a group of presenters from Lookout offered a look at the slow pace of security patching among Android-compatible device makers, and how that slow patch cycle could be exploited by attackers.

"In 2010, there were no [Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures] posted for mobile devices," noted Lookout's Tim Strazzere. "In 2011, there have already been six CVEs accepted."

And smartphone vendors are not helping by dragging their feet on security patching, the Lookout researchers said. While patches for emerging mobile device threats, such as Exploid and Rage Against the Cage, sometimes take 30 weeks or more, a few Android-compatible device makers have issued no security patches at all.

Daswani's presentation demonstrated the ability of malware authors to deliver their payloads using drive-by downloads from legitimate markets or applications, without needing to bait users into downloading a Trojan.

"Currently, most mobile attacks are Trojans," Daswani says, "but now [that] we know that drive-by downloads are possible, we expect things to shift in that direction."

Daswani's research also indicates that some 8.4 percent of Android applications studied are leaking personal information.

A session entitled "Hacking Androids for Profit" promised previously unreported vulnerabilities in the popular devices, but the session was postponed.

While the Android was the focus of most of the Black Hat sessions, Stefan Esser outlined vulnerabilities in the iPhone's iOS kernel that could be open for exploit.

"The iPhone user land is locked down very tightly by kernel-level protections," Esser said. "Therefore, any sophisticated attack has to include a kernel exploit in order to completely compromise the device."

Esser outlined ways that attackers could use previously disclosed iOS kernel vulnerabilities to exploit uninitialized kernel variables and create buffer overflows, among other exploits. He released a tool that allows users to selectively deactivate some iOS kernel security patches.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-33033
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
The Linux kernel before 5.11.14 has a use-after-free in cipso_v4_genopt in net/ipv4/cipso_ipv4.c because the CIPSO and CALIPSO refcounting for the DOI definitions is mishandled, aka CID-ad5d07f4a9cd. This leads to writing an arbitrary value.
CVE-2021-33034
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
In the Linux kernel before 5.12.4, net/bluetooth/hci_event.c has a use-after-free when destroying an hci_chan, aka CID-5c4c8c954409. This leads to writing an arbitrary value.
CVE-2019-25044
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
The block subsystem in the Linux kernel before 5.2 has a use-after-free that can lead to arbitrary code execution in the kernel context and privilege escalation, aka CID-c3e2219216c9. This is related to blk_mq_free_rqs and blk_cleanup_queue.
CVE-2020-24119
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
A heap buffer overflow read was discovered in upx 4.0.0, because the check in p_lx_elf.cpp is not perfect.
CVE-2020-27833
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
A Zip Slip vulnerability was found in the oc binary in openshift-clients where an arbitrary file write is achieved by using a specially crafted raw container image (.tar file) which contains symbolic links. The vulnerability is limited to the command `oc image extract`. If a symbolic link is first c...