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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Christian Bryant
50%
50%
Christian Bryant,
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.
'Hidden Tunnels' Help Hackers Launch Financial Services Attacks
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/20/2018
Tesla Employee Steals, Sabotages Company Data
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  6/19/2018
Inside a SamSam Ransomware Attack
Ajit Sancheti, CEO and Co-Founder, Preempt,  6/20/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-7682
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-22
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager versions prior to 11.4 allows a user to invoke SBM RESTful services across domains.
CVE-2018-12689
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-22
phpLDAPadmin 1.2.2 allows LDAP injection via a crafted server_id parameter in a cmd.php?cmd=login_form request, or a crafted username and password in the login panel.
CVE-2018-12538
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-22
In Eclipse Jetty versions 9.4.0 through 9.4.8, when using the optional Jetty provided FileSessionDataStore for persistent storage of HttpSession details, it is possible for a malicious user to access/hijack other HttpSessions and even delete unmatched HttpSessions present in the FileSystem's storage...
CVE-2018-12684
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-22
Out-of-bounds Read in the send_ssi_file function in civetweb.c in CivetWeb through 1.10 allows attackers to cause a Denial of Service or Information Disclosure via a crafted SSI file.
CVE-2018-12687
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-22
tinyexr 0.9.5 has an assertion failure in DecodePixelData in tinyexr.h.