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Hackers Exploit Default Apps to Install Malware on Samsung Galaxy S4

Researchers Demonstrate Exploits Against Mobile Platforms at Mobile Pwn2Own 2013

Researchers Demonstrate Exploits Against Mobile Platforms at Mobile Pwn2Own 2013

This week at the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest taking place at the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo, Japan, a team of security researchers demonstrated exploits against several applications installed by default on Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones that enabled them to silently install a malicious application and steal sensitive data.

Team MBSD, of Japanese firm Mitsui Bussan Secure Directions, Inc., earned $40,000 for their exploit efforts which enabled them to successfully compromise the Samsung device running Google’s Android.

“This team exploited multiple apps, installed by default on the Samsung Galaxy S4 to install malware and steal confidential data,” HP’s Heather Goudey explained in a blog post. “In order for the exploit to be successful, the affected user must first be lured to an attacker-controlled malicious website. However, from there, no more user interaction is required and an attacker can install arbitrary applications of their choice with system-level privileges on the user’s device.”

According to Goudey, the exploit enables attackers to capture and exfiltrate sensitive data including the affected user’s contacts, bookmarks, browsing history, screen shots, SMS messages, etc.

While the attack does require some level of user interaction, getting a user to visit a malicious site isn’t incredibly challenging, and after a user makes just one click, attackers can remotely execute code as they choose.

The vulnerability was disclosed to Samsung, HP said.

HP’s Brian Gorenc talks about Mobile Pwn2Own 2013 in the video below.

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Written By

For more than 15 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.

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