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New flaw makes Android devices on AT&T & Verizon’s wireless services vulnerable

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AT&T and Verizon Wireless connected Android smartphones are vulnerable to hacking

A group of south Korean researched have shared news that many Android devices are vulnerable to a security flaw unknown till now. The devices in question are the ones utilizing Verizon or AT&T networks.

The news was posted by the Carnegie Mellon University CERT database.  The vulnerability in question targets LTE wireless networks and takes advantage of the way some US carriers have implemented the technology on their respective networks. This attack makes use of the way LTE has been imlpemented by the networks in question. Android devices on other carriers like T-mobile are not reported to be affected by the vulnerability.  If exploited, attackers could circumvent Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), often used in voice calls and instant messaging, to gain access to a victim’s device. The attackers could then initiate the denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a wireless network.

The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a communications protocol for signaling and controlling multimedia communication sessions. The most common applications of SIP are in Internet telephony for voice and video calls, as well as instant messaging all over Internet Protocol (IP) networks.

Once a victims device is accessed thus, it opens the floodgates for a variety of attacks. The flaw is because of the way LTE is implemented. Older protocols used circuit switching to transfer data, LTE uses packet switching. Packet switching was the chosen method as it is more cost & network efficient. Furthermore, the mechanism makes it possible for the system to detect if a network route is faulty and automatically finds another way to send the data.

“[…] We considered security issues and possible attacks related to VoLTE call service after legitimate IMS registration. However, an attacker can also utilize a SIP REGISTER message to perform other attacks. If there are vulnerabilities in the registration phase, an attacker can control all access to a victim’s VoLTE service. For example, she can carry out an imposter attack or even wiretapping,”

ACM researchers.

T-mobile has since released a statement confirming the issue and also stating that they have resolved it. Apple iPhone users need not worry as Apple products seem to be safe from the flaw for now. A Google spokesperson has stated that Google would roll out a fix for the said flaw for Nexus devices in their monthly security patch in November.

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Delwyn Pinto

A person proud to have an alternate view 

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