Threat Intelligence

7/27/2017
08:10 PM
50%
50%

Broadcom Chipset Bug in Android, iOS Smartphones Allows Remote Attack

Security researcher found a common flaw in Android and iOS smartphone chipsets that could allow a remote exploit to be unleashed on millions of devices.

BLACK HAT – Las Vegas - Android and iOS smartphones loaded with a Broadcom Wi-Fi chipset offer attackers a common means to launch a remote exploit that could affect millions of users, according to a presentation here today at Black Hat by security researcher Nitay Artenstein of Exodus Intelligence.

The discovery came about when Artenstein was looking for ways to launch a remote exploit from Android and iOS smartphones, but he knew it would be tough given the way the devices have been hardened with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention (DEP).

"It's hard to get past ASLR and DEP, so I started looking around the neighborhood to see what would work," said Artenstein, who gave the Black Hat presentation Broadpwn: Remotely Compromising Android and IOS via a Bug in Broadcom's Wi-Fi Chipsets.

He looked at the application processor and toyed with the idea of looking for vulnerabilities in the baseband processor. But he noted that the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Note, Google Nexus, HTC, and other smartphones used different chipsets in the devices. However, when he turned his attention to exploring Wi-Fi chipsets, he found that Broadcom was used across the board.

"It's an interesting situation for attackers because they can write an exploit and repeat their work," Artenstein said.

He added that the Wi-Fi Broadcom chipsets have no ASLR or DEP to contend with.

A bug he found in the chipsets had the three necessary ingredients to launch a remote attack.

One is that the vulnerability did not require human interaction to launch an exploit. In this particular case, the smartphone would search for WiFi access points and when it found one, it would automatically connect, Artenstein explained.

The second characteristic is the bug did not require complex assumptions because a wrong assumption could reveal the exploit. "We wanted to find a bug that had static, consistent memory, if possible," Artenstein recalled.

And the third characteristic that's needed for a remote exploit is that its code could be cleaned up after the payload is installed to reduce the chance of it crashing or failing.

In this particular case, the security researcher searched for a location in the chipset where he could write large quantities of data for the payload, and he found that in the packet ring buffer.

With all the elements in place, Artenstein created an exploit that had the ability to be remotely launched without user interaction and could self-propagate, like a worm. Broadcom was informed of his discovery and patched the problem last month.

Related Content:

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
No SOPA
50%
50%
No SOPA,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2017 | 5:22:52 PM
Broadcom Track Record
Yet another clever hack, but not the first that targets Broadcom. I remember another paper a while back for developing a rootkit on a similar chipset that I believe also took advantage of the packet ring buffer.  At some point Broadcom needs to do some serious review of their chip architecture and establish some new methods of securing these features.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-6345
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
The function number_format is vulnerable to a heap overflow issue when its second argument ($dec_points) is excessively large. The internal implementation of the function will cause a string to be created with an invalid length, which can then interact poorly with other functions. This affects all s...
CVE-2018-7603
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
In Drupal's 3rd party module search auto complete prior to versions 7.x-4.8 there is a Cross Site Scripting vulnerability. This Search Autocomplete module enables you to autocomplete textfield using data from your website (nodes, comments, etc.). The module doesn't sufficiently filter user-entered t...
CVE-2019-3554
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
Wangle's AcceptRoutingHandler incorrectly casts a socket when accepting a TLS 1.3 connection, leading to a potential denial of service attack against systems accepting such connections. This affects versions of Wangle prior to v2019.01.14.00
CVE-2019-3557
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
The implementations of streams for bz2 and php://output improperly implemented their readImpl functions, returning -1 consistently. This behavior caused some stream functions, such as stream_get_line, to trigger an out-of-bounds read when operating on such malformed streams. The implementations were...
CVE-2019-0030
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
Juniper ATP uses DES and a hardcoded salt for password hashing, allowing for trivial de-hashing of the password file contents. This issue affects Juniper ATP 5.0 versions prior to 5.0.3.