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.

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.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"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.

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

How inkjet can transform your business

Get more out of your business by investing in the right printing technology

Download now

Journey to a modern workplace with Office 365: which tools and when?

A guide to how Office 365 builds a modern workplace

Download now

Modernise and transform your sales organisation

Learn how a modernised sales process can drive your business

Download now

Your guide to managing cloud transformation risk

Realise the benefits. Mitigate the risks

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/cloud/cloud-computing/354767/google-cloud-snaps-up-multi-cloud-analytics-platform-for-26bn
cloud computing

Google Cloud snaps up multi-cloud analytics platform for $2.6bn

13 Feb 2020
Visit/mobile/28299/how-to-use-chromecast-without-wi-fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
Visit/operating-systems/27717/how-to-fix-a-stuck-windows-10-update
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020
Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354771/microsoft-azure-is-a-testament-to-satya-nadellas-strategic-nouse
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a testament to Satya Nadella’s strategic nouse

14 Feb 2020