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Researchers Build Firewall to Deflect SS7 Attacks

Security researchers will release an open-source SS7 firewall at Black Hat USA that aims to bolster security of mobile operators' core networks.

Mobile security software can do little to protect end users and BYOD workers when Signaling System 7 (SS7) vulnerabilities are exploited in mobile operotors' core mobile networks, according to security researchers.

SS7 vulnerabilities, which can allow cybercriminals to hijack two-factor authentication codes texted to mobile phones, read and redirect text messages, eavesdrop on phone calls, and track a phone's location, have existed since 2014.

But researchers from P1 Security have built a firewall that defends against such SS7 attacks. Martin Kacer, P1's core network security researcher, and Philippe Langlois, P1's CEO, will release the homegrown open-source SS7 firewall technology at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas later this month.

Black Hat USA returns to the fabulous Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-27, 2017. Click for information on the conference schedule and to register.

 

"Two years ago, it was very expensive and hard to deploy an SS7 firewall," Kacer says. "But now there is a new open-source SS7 firewall that will make it less expensive" for mobile operators, he says.

Langlois, meanwhile, notes that the firewall will allow operators to encrypt signalization and authenticate connecting mobile operators using the SS7 and Diameter protocol, whereas before it was not possible to easily enable confidentiality and integrity protection for the signalization between operators.

This is designed to prevent attackers from sniffing the traffic as it flies between the mobile core networks. It also prevents spoofing, where attackers impersonate networks, Kacer says.

Not only is the open-source firewall designed to take standard firewall measures against cyberattacks, but it's also configured to take an advanced defensive posture as well. Attackers who send an illegal signalization in the hope of identifying the location of the cellphone will instead have it redirected to a honeypot, for instance, which will then send a fake location to the attacker, Kacer says.

P1's Kacer and Langlois in their SS7 Attacker Heaven Turns Into Riot: How To Make Nation-State And Intelligence Attackers' Lives Much Harder On Mobile Networks talk at Black Hat also plan to delve into the current status of SS7 mobile vulnerabilities, potential solutions, explore advanced SS7 attacks, and defenses relating to the SS7 network vulnerabilities.

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Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio
 

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