Pwn2Own hackers break Google Chrome on Nexus and Samsung Galaxy smartphones

Pwn2Own Mobile sees Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 broken.

Google Nexus 4 - Display

Google Chrome for Nexus phones has been broken during the Mobile Pwn2Own competition, leaving devices at risk of potentially serious compromise.

With Safari on an iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy S4 already shown to have potentially serious weaknesses, a hacking crew called Pinkie Pie broke Chrome on a Nexus 4. They later did the same on the Galaxy device.

Companies need to take mobile security more seriously, especially when they start implementing things like Bring Your Own Device and allow customers to include corporate data on their phones.

The team were rewarded with $50,000 (31,000) for attacks that took advantage of two vulnerabilities: an integer overflow and another that resulted in a full sandbox escape. A hacker who took advantage of the flaws could remotely execute code, potentially allowing them to install malicious applications on a target phone.

As with the hacks on the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 earlier this week, the Chrome breach would require some social engineering to get the target to visit a malicious website.

Google were alerted to the vulnerability by Pwn2Own organisers, the HP Zero Day Initiative (ZDI). It had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Earlier this week, China's Keen Team were handed $27,000 for getting around Safari protections to steal Facebook login credentials for an iPhone and steal a picture taken of the Mobile Pwn2Own audience.

Japan's Team MBSD, of Mitsui Bussan Secure Directions, were rewarded with $40,000 for exploiting vulnerabilities in a number of Samsung applications installed by default on the popular Galaxy S4.

Apple and Samsung have been warned about the flaws, but neither had responded to requests for comment on the vulnerabilities. It's unclear when any of the Pwn2Own flaws will be patched.

Brian Gorenc, HP's manager of vulnerability research and head of the ZDI, told IT Pro people were now taking mobile threats seriously and Pwn2Own was helping spread awareness.

"That's why we launched Mobile Pwn2Ownto get researchers to responsibly disclose these vulnerabilities," Gorenc said. "We're really reaching out around the world to get research techniques that are unique, that we haven't seen before.

"Companies need to take mobile security more seriously, especially when they start implementing things like Bring Your Own Device and allow customers to include corporate data on their phones."

Despite the apparent success of the competition, no one received the top prize of $100,000, which was promised to anyone who could hack a phone's baseband processor, allowing them to scoop up radio signals and listen in on people's conversations.

Featured Resources

BCDR buyer's guide for MSPs

How to choose a business continuity and disaster recovery solution

Download now

The definitive guide to IT security

Protecting your MSP and your customers

Download now

Cost of a data breach report 2020

Find out what factors help mitigate breach costs

Download now

The complete guide to changing your phone system provider

Optimise your phone system for better business results

Download now

Recommended

TsuNAME vulnerability could enable DDoS attacks on major DNS servers
distributed denial of service (DDOS)

TsuNAME vulnerability could enable DDoS attacks on major DNS servers

7 May 2021
Security researchers take control of a Tesla via drone
ethical hacking

Security researchers take control of a Tesla via drone

5 May 2021
New report highlights the need for diversity in cyber security recruitment
cyber security

New report highlights the need for diversity in cyber security recruitment

28 Apr 2021
Hackers could abuse legitimate Windows AD FS to steal data
Microsoft Windows

Hackers could abuse legitimate Windows AD FS to steal data

28 Apr 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Dell patches vulnerability affecting hundreds of computer models worldwide
cyber security

Dell patches vulnerability affecting hundreds of computer models worldwide

5 May 2021
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

29 Apr 2021