Exploiting open functionality in SMS-capable cellular networks

Journal of Computer Security 01/2008; 16(6):713-742. DOI: 10.3233/JCS-2007-0308
Source: DBLP


Cellular networks are a critical component of the economic and social infrastructures in which we live. In addition to voice services, these networks deliver alphanumeric text messages to the vast majority of wireless subscribers. To encourage the expansion of this new service, telecommunications companies of- fer connections between their networks and the Internet. The ramifications of such connections, however, have not been fully recognized. In this paper, we evaluate the security impact of the SMS interface on the availability of the cellular phone network. Specifically, we describe the ability to deny voice service to cities the size of Washington DC and Manhattan with little more than a cable modem. Moreover, attacks targeting the entire United States are feasible with resources available to medium-sized zombie networks. This analysis begins with an exploration of the structure of cellular networks. We then characterize net- work behavior and explore a number of reconnaissance techniques aimed at effectively targeting attacks on these systems. We conclude by discussing countermeasures that mitigate or eliminate the threats intro- duced by these attacks.

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    • "Further, a warning system using prevalent technology based on popular usage helps to proclaim warning quickly and easily. Thus, it is prudent to look for a system that could be developed with available infrastructure, instruments and setups and reaches affected people on time (Enck et al. 2005). The ever increasing number of mobile phone subscriptions around the world facilitates the prospect of reaching more than 75 % of population on an average in a given locality, more so via short message service (SMS), a mobile phone service (Cioca et al. 2008). "

    Full-text · Dataset · Jul 2013
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    • "Furthermore, he showed how this last feature can be used to carry out a Denial-of-Service on a specific mobile number. Traynor et al. demonstrated how SMS messaging can be malicious and harmful to the network [13]. Many mobile operators provide an Internet-based SMS service through which users can send SMS messages directly from the web to a mobile phone connected to the operator network. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we study some messaging design decisions which resulted in a set of vulnerabilities in the Android operating system, and we demonstrate how a malware application can be built to abuse these vulnerabilities. The application presents itself as a regular SMS messaging application and uses its basic permissions to send/receive short messages. Since many operators worldwide provide services that allow users to transfer credits/units through SMS, the application abuses this service to transfer credits from users illegally. The "permission" subsystem, the "broadcast receiver" subsystem, and the message-sending mechanism contribute to forming a haven for SMS malware by granting them absolute control over sending, receiving, and hiding SMS messages. Accordingly, the malicious application hides any acknowledgments from the telecom operator that might appear after a credit transfer transaction. This enables malware to drain the balance of the attacked user and has the potential to cause damage to a large number of users as well as telecom operators. The application was demonstrated on a local operator and it successfully passed standard screening procedures that claim to catch malware. A set of possible solutions are also presented in order to mitigate the risks of such attacks.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Jan 2013
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    • "No order. Enck et al. (2005); Cioca et al. (2008); Hsu et al. (2007) Early warning floods system. "

    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012
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