Screen repairs could result in hacked smartphones

Compromised components could be used to spy on users

Smartphone users have been warned that repaired devices could leave them vulnerable to spying my malicious actors.

Security researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel discovered that replacement screens could harbour malware on a chip integrated with the display that could allow hackers to remotely control a smartphone or eavesdrop on conversations and messages.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In a YouTube video, the researchers set up a demonstration of the problem using a Huawei Nexus 6P and an LG G Pad 7.0. Both were fitted with a screen modified with a chip that allowed them to access systems on the devices.

The modified screen could snoop on anything entered on a keyboard, direct victims to phishing websites and install rogue apps, as well as use the phone's camera to take pictures. Other attacks allowed researchers to control the operating system of the devices. The modified screens appear identical to those made by the phone manufacturers themselves.

"In contrast to 'pluggable' drivers, such as USB or network drivers, the component driver's source code implicitly assumes that the component hardware is authentic and trustworthy. As a result of this trust, very few integrity checks are performed on the communications between the component and the device's main processor," said researchers.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

In an accompanying research paper, they said that the threat of a malicious peripheral existing inside consumer electronics should not be taken lightly. 

"Attacks by malicious peripherals are feasible, scalable, and invisible to most detection techniques. A well-motivated adversary may be fully capable of mounting such attacks in a large-scale or against specific targets. System designers should consider replacement components to be outside the phone's trust boundary, and design their defences accordingly," said the researchers.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/encryption/355820/k2view-innovates-in-data-management-with-new-encryption-patent
encryption

K2View innovates in data management with new encryption patent

28 May 2020
Visit/software/video-conferencing/355410/zoom-50-adds-256-bit-encryption-and-ui-refresh
video conferencing

Zoom 5.0 adds 256-bit encryption to address security concerns

23 Apr 2020
Visit/security/hacking/355382/whatsapps-flaw-shoulder-surfing
hacking

WhatsApp flaw leaves users open to 'shoulder surfing' attacks

21 Apr 2020
Visit/security/cyber-security/355368/microsoft-builds-ai-to-detect-security-flaws-with-99-accuracy
cyber security

Microsoft AI can detect security flaws with 99% accuracy

20 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355785/dell-emc-poweredge-r7525-review-an-epyc-core-density-to-make
Server & storage

Dell EMC PowerEdge R7525 review: An EPYC core density to make Intel weep

26 May 2020
Visit/infrastructure/network-internet/355792/intel-releases-wi-fi-and-bluetooth-driver-updates-for
Network & Internet

Intel releases Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver updates for Windows 10

26 May 2020
Visit/operating-systems/microsoft-windows/355781/microsoft-confirms-further-issues-with-troublesome
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update is causing yet more issues

26 May 2020