We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Galaxy S III hacked using NFC at Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest

Galaxy S III hacked using NFC at Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest

Attackers can take full control of a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone just by holding devices close together, researchers demonstrated

Article comments

The Samsung Galaxy S III can be hacked via NFC, allowing attackers to download all data from the Android smartphone, security researchers demonstrated during the Mobile Pwn2Own contest in Amsterdam earlier today.

Researchers from security company MWR Labs showed the audience at the Mobile Pwn2Own competition at the EUSecWest security conference that it is possible to beam an exploit over a NFC (Near Field Communication) connection by holding two Galaxy S IIIs next to each other.

Using this technique, a file is loaded on the targeted S III. The file is then automatically opened and gets full permissions, meaning that the attacker has full control over the phone, explained Tyrone Erasmus, security researcher at MWR. The app runs in the background so the victim is unaware of the attack, he added.

The attacker, for instance, gets access to all SMS messages, pictures, emails, contact information and much more. The payload is very advanced, so attackers can "basically do anything on that phone," the researchers said.

The exploit is aimed at a document viewer application that comes as a default installed app on the Galaxy S II, S III and some HTC phones, the researchers said. They wouldn't say which specific app is targeted because they did not want others to take advantage of the exploit. The vulnerability was tested on both the S II and the S III, and worked on both phones, they said.

It should be noted though, that the vulnerability can also be exploited in other ways, the researchers said. The payload data can for instance be attached to an email message and have the same effect when downloaded, they said.

"We used the NFC method for showmanship," said Erasmus, who added that using NFC means that people can be targeted when they simply walk past a potential attacker. Though the phones must be very close to each other - almost touching - only a very brief connection is needed to upload the payload data, after which a Wi-Fi connection can be established, allowing the attacker to download information from the targeted phone, the researchers said.

The MWR team won $30,000 among other prizes for their hack. The technical details of the hack will be disclosed to Samsung by the Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) of HP DVLabs, which organised the competition. When that has happened the bug will probably be fixed, the researchers said.

"I think this is a highly dangerous threat factor," said Dragos Ruiu, organizer of EUSecWest, who added he was especially impressed by the scale of the exploit. Most Pwn2Own hacks only exploit a specific part of a mobile phone, like the browser, he said. "They demonstrated full ownage of the phone; that is exceptional," said Ruiu.

Dutch security researchers earlier hacked an iPhone 4S during the same Pwn2Own contest, showing how a malicious web page can send all pictures, address book data and browsing history on the phone to a server of the attacker's choice by exploiting a hole in Safari's WebKit engine.

Share:

Comments

  • Dschingis Does NFC have to be enabled for this to work Because NFC is disabled when your Phone is locked
Advertisement
Advertisement
Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:


PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.


ComputerworldUK Knowledge Vault

ComputerworldUK
Share
x
Open
* *