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.

Threat Intelligence

7/27/2017
08:10 PM
50%
50%

Broadcom Chipset Bug in Android, iOS Smartphones Allows Remote Attack

Security researcher found a common flaw in Android and iOS smartphone chipsets that could allow a remote exploit to be unleashed on millions of devices.

BLACK HAT – Las Vegas - Android and iOS smartphones loaded with a Broadcom Wi-Fi chipset offer attackers a common means to launch a remote exploit that could affect millions of users, according to a presentation here today at Black Hat by security researcher Nitay Artenstein of Exodus Intelligence.

The discovery came about when Artenstein was looking for ways to launch a remote exploit from Android and iOS smartphones, but he knew it would be tough given the way the devices have been hardened with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP).

"It's hard to get past ASLR and DEP, so I started looking around the neighborhood to see what would work," said Artenstein, who gave the Black Hat presentation Broadpwn: Remotely Compromising Android and IOS via a Bug in Broadcom's Wi-Fi Chipsets.

He looked at the application processor and toyed with the idea of looking for vulnerabilities in the baseband processor. But he noted that the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Note, Google Nexus, HTC, and other smartphones used different chipsets in the devices. However, when he turned his attention to exploring Wi-Fi chipsets, he found that Broadcom was used across the board.

"It's an interesting situation for attackers because they can write an exploit and repeat their work," Artenstein said.

He added that the Wi-Fi Broadcom chipsets have no ASLR or DEP to contend with.

A bug he found in the chipsets had the three necessary ingredients to launch a remote attack.

One is that the vulnerability did not require human interaction to launch an exploit. In this particular case, the smartphone would search for WiFi access points and when it found one, it would automatically connect, Artenstein explained.

The second characteristic is the bug did not require complex assumptions because a wrong assumption could reveal the exploit. "We wanted to find a bug that had static, consistent memory, if possible," Artenstein recalled.

And the third characteristic that's needed for a remote exploit is that its code could be cleaned up after the payload is installed to reduce the chance of it crashing or failing.

In this particular case, the security researcher searched for a location in the chipset where he could write large quantities of data for the payload, and he found that in the packet ring buffer.

With all the elements in place, Artenstein created an exploit that had the ability to be remotely launched without user interaction and could self-propagate, like a worm. Broadcom was informed of his discovery and patched the problem last month.

Related Content:

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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
RetiredUser
50%
50%
RetiredUser,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2017 | 5:22:52 PM
Broadcom Track Record
Yet another clever hack, but not the first that targets Broadcom. I remember another paper a while back for developing a rootkit on a similar chipset that I believe also took advantage of the packet ring buffer.  At some point Broadcom needs to do some serious review of their chip architecture and establish some new methods of securing these features.
Stop Defending Everything
Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
Architectural Analysis IDs 78 Specific Risks in Machine-Learning Systems
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  2/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9007
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-16
Codoforum 4.8.8 allows self-XSS via the title of a new topic.
CVE-2020-9012
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-16
A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Import People functionality in Gluu Identity Configuration 4.0 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the filename parameter.
CVE-2019-20456
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-16
Goverlan Reach Console before 9.50, Goverlan Reach Server before 3.50, and Goverlan Client Agent before 9.20.50 have an Untrusted Search Path that leads to Command Injection and Local Privilege Escalation via DLL hijacking.
CVE-2020-8996
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-16
AnyShare Cloud 6.0.9 allows authenticated directory traversal to read files, as demonstrated by the interface/downloadwithpath/downloadfile/?filepath=/etc/passwd URI.
CVE-2020-8997
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-16
Abbott FreeStyle Libre 14-day before February 2020 and FreeStyle Libre 2 before February 2020 allow remote attackers to enable write access via a specific NFC unlock command.