Smartphone carriers may be vulnerable to traffic hijacking and phishing attacks, a US University has claimed.The University of Michigan claims they have identified 48 carriers who have weak security features; however, is refusing to identify which carriers are exposed.
Calls to the University reveal that at least one Australian carrier is on the list.
The full list is expected to be revealed this week when the University presents a security paper at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.
The University claims that their researchers were able exploit a carrier security feature to hijack connections to Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, and the AdMob advertising network, and to spoof traffic for banks and financial institutions.
Electronista claims that the researchers’ exploit relies on a firewall on the carrier network that tracks sequence numbers for Internet connections. TCP sequence numbers are intended to allow computers to correctly reassemble data that was transmitted or received out of its proper order. By inferring TCP sequence numbers of data packets, hackers could conceivably tamper with users’ Internet connections, directing them to sites other than those they intended to visit.
The exploit was tested on Android-powered HTC, Samsung, and Motorola smartphones connected to various networks across the globe. The researchers were able to redirect the phones from their intended Internet destinations, effectively bypassing security features built into both apps and smartphone operating systems. The attack could be used to send fraudulent messages on social networks, direct users to phishing sites, and even send out erroneous stock information to users’ handsets.