Samsung, LG, Huawei and other Android phones vulnerable to SMS phishing attacks

Samsung, LG, Huawei and other Android phones vulnerable to SMS phishing attacks”

Even after getting patches, researchers recommended users not to blindly trust messages from your mobile carriers or APN settings available on the Internet claiming to help users with troubleshooting issues in data carrier services.

Sony meanwhile refused to acknowledged the vulnerability, saying its phones follow the OMA-CP specification.

Researchers determined that certain Samsung phones were the most vulnerable to this form of phishing attack because they do not have an authenticity check for senders of OMA CP messages.

According to a new report Check Point shared with The Hacker News, weakly-authenticated provisioning messages implemented by some device manufacturers-including Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Sony-can allow remote hackers to trick users into updating their device APN settings with malicious attacker-controlled proxy servers. "Samsung phones compound this by allowing unauthenticated OMA CP messages as well", the researchers say in a report released today.

The phishing CP messages can either be narrowly targeted, for example, preceded by a custom text message carefully crafted to fool a specific individual, or sent out in bulk, in the hope that at least a few of the recipients are gullible enough to accept it without questioning its legitimacy.

In terms of defending or blocking attacks, Check Point advised that consumers should always be careful about what settings they approve and install on their phones, and ideally installing a mobile security solution for checking the networks they are connected to.

To run an attack, the threat actor would need a GSM modem (priced around $10) or a phone running in modem mode to send binary messages, and a simple script to compose thee OMA CP. Coming back to the weaknesses Check Point researchers identified in the authentication of provisioning messages, specifications the industry-standard recommends to make OTA provisioning secure doesn't mandate carriers to properly authenticate CP messages using USERPIN, NETWPIN, or other methods.

Samsung, LG, Huawei and other Android phones vulnerable to SMS phishing attacks

To target some of the susceptible phones, the attacker needs to know the device's International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, Check Point admitted, but added this may not be hard.

Attackers can obtain a victim's IMSI in a variety of ways, including creating a rogue Android app that reads a phone's IMSI once it is installed.

Devices from Huawei, LG, and Sony were a little bit more secure, as they required the sender of an OMA CP message to provide the phone's IMSI code before accepting the message.

However, Check Point's researchers demonstrated that anyone can send OTA provisioning messages.

"Given the popularity of Android devices, this is a critical vulnerability that must be addressed", said Slava Makkaveev, security researcher at Check Point Software Technologies. On the mobile network side, operators can block the delivery of OMA CP messages that did not originate from their own equipment.

Samsung patched the flaw after Check Point disclosed it in March, along with LG in July.

Huawei is planning to include UI fixes for OMA CP in the next generation of Mate series or P series smartphones. Samsung and LG already rolled out an appropriate fix.

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