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Iphone and Android hacks can turn them into spying devices

Baseband attacks ahoy
Tue Jan 18 2011, 13:55

IPHONE AND ANDROID DEVICES will be hacked at next week's Black Hat conference in a demo to show that they can be turned into spy machines.

University of Luxembourg research associate Ralf-Philipp Weinmann told Computerworld that his technique will break into a smartphone's baseband processor, which sends and receives radio signals as it communicates with the mobile network. A hacker can then listen in to conversations from far away.

Weinmann said that there are bugs in the way Qualcomm and Infineon chips process radio signals on GSM networks. Previously, attacks on Iphone and Android devices have generally focused on hacking their operating systems.

But it would be difficult to attack a smartphone this way in the real world. As a smartphone has to communicate with a mobile phone tower, Weinmann needs to set up a fake cellphone tower and make the targeted phone communicate with it. Only then can he send malicious code.

But setting up a fake radio tower is apparently becoming easier. You'll also see more baseband attacks in the future, as research is increasing in this area. In a couple of months, hackers will be invited to break into mobile phones at the CanSecWest conference. For cash prizes! µ



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