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Wi-Fi Flaws Expose iPhone, Nexus Phones to Attacks

Vulnerabilities in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi system-on-chip (SoC) can be exploited to hijack iPhone, Nexus, Samsung and other smartphones without requiring any user interaction.

Vulnerabilities in Broadcom’s Wi-Fi system-on-chip (SoC) can be exploited to hijack iPhone, Nexus, Samsung and other smartphones without requiring any user interaction.

Google Project Zero researcher Gal Beniamini has identified several remote code execution, privilege escalation and information disclosure vulnerabilities in Broadcom firmware.

Since Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips are widely used, the flaws affect many devices, including Google’s Nexus 5, 6 and 6P, all iPhones since iPhone 4, and most of Samsung’s flagship Android smartphones.

Beniamini has published a lengthy blog post describing the Broadcom Wi-Fi chipset and vulnerabilities that can be exploited for remote code execution. The researcher has also promised to publish another blog post that will provide details on the second part of the exploit chain, which involves elevating privileges from the SoC to the operating system’s kernel.

An attacker who is in Wi-Fi range can exploit the security holes found by the Google researcher to take complete control of a vulnerable device without any user interaction.

Beniamini applauded Broadcom’s response, stating that the company was responsive and helpful in fixing the vulnerabilities and making the patches available to affected device manufacturers.

The researcher said Broadcom’s firmware lacks all basic exploit mitigations, but the company claims newer versions do include some security mechanisms and exploit mitigations are being considered for future versions.

Apple released an emergency update this week for iOS to address the remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2017-6975), but the company did not provide any details.

The Broadcom flaws were also patched in Android with the release of the April security updates.

Samsung has also released maintenance updates this week for its Android devices. The updates include both the Google patches and fixes for vulnerabilities specific to Samsung products.

Related: Google Patches 22 Critical Android Vulnerabilities

Related: No Prizes Awarded in Google’s Android Hacking Contest

Related: Android VPNs Introduce Security, Privacy Risks

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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