United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union warns of a new cyberthreat that targets mobile phones. According to the agency, this method of attack can be used to remotely hack about 0.5 billion mobile phone devices.
The cybersecurity bug enables hackers to control and operate mobile phones remotely. In addition, they can used for copying a particular type of SIM cards, which rely on DES. DES is an old-generation technology for encryption. According to calculations, over 500 million mobile phone devices use such SIM cards and are thus vulnerable to the threat. In addition, this number can increase if the method is further examined and researched.
When hackers use this bug to attack a phone, they get access to credit and debit card numbers, as well as electronic banking information stored on the device’s SIM. Also, cybercriminals will be able to send text messages and make calls from the phone. Simply said, they will have no trouble impersonating the owner of the mobile device. That can result in electronic espionage or financial crimes.
For now, the attack can gain access only to information stored on the phone’s SIM card. That means that mobile apps for payments and banking are not threatened by it. Nevertheless, that does not mean that these applications are entirely safe since they are exposed to other vulnerabilities.
Hackers have been trying to crack SIM cards. That is because these devices are constantly placed in phones and they have the function of storing valuable data. This is namely why UN’s ITU identifies the problem as “highly significant.” The group is planning to inform mobile companies, government agencies and regulators in almost 200 countries about the dangers of the cyberattack bug. In addition, ITU will offer help to SIM vendors and network carriers that may be affected by the threat.
Berlin’s Security Research Labs has already discovered some mobile operators which are particularly vulnerable to the attack. However, experts warn that all types of mobile phones can be hacked by this method, including iPhones, as well as Android and Blackberry devices.