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Modem Vulnerabilty Attacks Android Phones, Steals Data and Records Calls

The vulnerability can steal your call logs/texts, and record conversations.

Google and Android manufacturers always aim to keep their hardware and software security robust. However, a vulnerability found in Qualcomm SoCs recently revealed by Check Point Research is quite frightening. The vulnerability can allow a harmful application to patch software with MSM Qualcomm modem chips, which gives the actor access to call logs and chat history and can even record conversations. Check Point Research's breaking down of vulnerability is quite technical. "QMI is present on approximately 30% of all mobile phones in the world but little is known about its role as a possible attack vector," the report says. 

In simple terms, it found vulnerabilities in QMI (Qualcomm Modem Interface) software modem layer and debugger service connections, that let the vulnerability to patch software dynamically and escape the general security mechanisms. General 3rd party applications do not have the safety mechanisms to gain access to QMI, however, if any more critical aspects are exploited in Android, the attack can prove beneficial. Researchers that found the vulnerabilities believe that harmful apps can secretly listen to your calls and also record them, unlock a sim card and even steal call logs and messages. 

Experts believe that the vulnerable QMI software found during the investigation might be present in around 40% of smartphones, from brands Google, LG, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Samsung, etc. Basic info regarding the methods used in the attack was explained by the experts, but the technicalities of the attack weren't mentioned in the report to prevent any malicious actor from learning how to use the vulnerabilities. Currently, no evidence suggests that the attack is being used in the open. 

Check Point Research says "we discovered a vulnerability in a modem data service that can be used to control the modem and dynamically patch it from the application processor. An attacker can use such a vulnerability to inject malicious code into the modem from Android. It gives the attacker access to the user’s call history and SMS, as well as the ability to listen to the user’s conversations. A hacker can exploit the vulnerability to unlock the SIM, thereby overcoming the limitations of the service providers imposed on the mobile device."

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