SCAM ALERT: New SIM Card Attack Threatens 'All Smartphones'

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SIM cards are no longer safe. Following in the wake of multiple SIM-swap attacks and the ominously named Simjacker, a new and even bigger threat has been discovered by researchers at Ginno Security Lab.

Dubbed WIBattack, it exploits a vulnerability in the Wireless Internet Browser (WIB) app found on some SIM cards to take control of the victim's phone from anywhere in the world. Here are the details.

As the name implies, SIM-based attacks involve hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in SIM cards for nefarious purposes - from stealing money via SMS to secretly installing spyware. According to Ginno Security Lab, this latest example is particularly worrying, as it has the potential to compromise hundreds of millions of mobile phones worldwide.

"By sending a malicious SMS to victim phone number, attacker can abuse the vulnerabilities in the WIB sim browser to remotely take control of the victim mobile phone," Ginno Security Lab explained in a blog post. "The affection of the vulnerability in WIB spreads worldwide and puts hundreds of millions of telecom subscribers worldwide at risk."

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Once taken control of, a compromised phone could be used to launch the WAP browser, make phone calls, send SMS to any phone numbers and even send the victim’s precise location to the attacker. Meanwhile, the phone's owner remains oblivious to the fact that their device is being controlled remotely. (e.g. - No ringing, vibrations, or notifications.)

Because the threat targets SIM cards, there's little that phone manufacturers or OS publishers can do. Ginno warns that every mobile phone that uses a WIB-enabled SIM card is affected. (Note: According to a SRLabs report sent to ZDnet, only around 10.7% of the phones they tested had the WIB app installed. That's still a worryingly high number.)

The graph below summarises how a WIBattack works:

And here it is in practice:

Ginno Security Lab has reported the vulnerability in WIB to The GSM Association. It recommends using the open source SIMtester to check whether your card is secure or not.

You can find out more about SIM-based attacks and how to prevent them here.

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[Via Ginno Security Lab]


Comments

    With how much we depend on our phones these days as they do mostly everything for us. These attacks are going to become more and more common. Then again, simple security basics can prevent these.

    Without mentioning or indicating a number of affected SIMs thus far, and even though this vulnerability is most probably true, it leaves this article as a scare tactic. We do need to remain vigilant, but we do not need articles crying wolf.

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