Hackers Can Intercept What’s Being Typed Just By The Sound Of It?




Hack Alert! Hackers could listen to the sound of typing on a person’s phone via a nearby smartphone and intercept what’s being typed.

Possibly, the acoustic signals or sound waves produced when a message is typed on a computer or a keyboard could be picked up by a smartphone.

The sound could later be processed leading an expert hacker to easily decode which keys were hit and ultimately what was it that was typed.
 
Allegedly, this trick could work in a busy hall filled with people chattering and typing as well, because researchers tried it out.

Sources mention that the researchers could intercept what’s being typed with a “41% word accuracy rate”. It might take only a couple of seconds to know what’s being typed.

The results of the research sure are disconcerting and privacy and security levels of the smartphones and their sensors have got to be taken to a higher level.

From detecting if a phone is still or in a pocket, to detecting if it’s on the move; with the enhanced technology, sensors too have come a long way.



Some sensors need permission whereas most of them are set to function as a default. Per sources, the researchers had in their analysis used the later.

All they did was develop an application that could intercept the sound of typing and detect which key exactly is hit.

According to researchers the material of the table at which the keyboard is placed, plays a crucial role in the entire process as the keys sound different on different materials.


Android phones vulnerable to Qualcomm bugs

Security researchers from Tencent’s Blade Team are warning Android smartphone and tablet users of flaws in Qualcomm chipsets, called QualPwn. The bugs collectively allow hackers to compromise Android devices remotely simply by sending malicious packets over-the-air – no user interaction required.

Three bugs make up QualPwn (CVE-2019-10539, CVE-2019-10540 and CVE-2019-10538). The prerequisite for the attack is that both the attacker and targeted Android device must be active on the same shared Wi-Fi network.

“One of the vulnerabilities allows attackers to compromise the WLAN and modem, over-the-air. The other allows attackers to compromise the Android kernel from the WLAN chip. The full exploit chain allows attackers to compromise the Android kernel over-the-air in some circumstances,” wrote researchers.

All three vulnerabilities have been reported to Qualcomm and Google’s Android security team and patches are available for handsets. “We have not found this vulnerability to have a public full exploit code,” according to a brief public disclosure of the flaws by the Tencent Blade Team.

Researchers said their focus was on Google Pixel2 and Pixel3 handsets and that its tests indicated that unpatched phones running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Snapdragon 845 chips may be vulnerable.

A Qualcomm spokesperson told Threatpost in a statement: “Providing technologies that support robust security and privacy is a priority for Qualcomm. We commend the security researchers from Tencent for using industry-standard coordinated disclosure practices through our Vulnerability Rewards Program. Qualcomm Technologies has already issued fixes to OEMs, and we encourage end users to update their devices as patches become available from OEMs.”

The first critical bug (CVE-2019-10539) is identified by researchers as a “buffer copy without checking size of input in WLAN.” Qualcomm describes it as a “possible buffer overflow issue due to lack of length check when parsing the extended cap IE header length.”

LTE vulnerabilities could allow eavesdroping


There are new vulnerabilities discovered with the 4G network used by smartphones. South Korean researchers discovered 36 new flaws using a technique called 'fuzzing'.

It turns out that our mobile networks may not be the safest. As LTE gets ready to make way for 5G, researchers have discovered several flaws in the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard, which could allow an attacker to intercept data traffic or spoof SMS messages.

The 4G LTE standard has vulnerabilities that could allow a hacker to intercept data that is being transferred on the networks. Although there has been plenty of research about LTE security vulnerabilities published in the past,  what's different about this particular study is the scale of the flaws identified and the way in which the researchers found them.

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Constitution (KAIST) have discovered 51 vulnerabilities with the 4G LTE standard—this includes 15 known issues and 36 new and previously undiscovered flaws with the standard.

LTE, although commonly marketed as 4G LTE, isn’t technically 4G. LTE is widely used around the world and often marketed as 4G. LTE can be more accurately described as 3.95G.

Given the widespread use of LTE, the latest findings have massive implications and clearly show wireless networks that consumers often take for granted aren't foolproof.

In their research paper [PDF], the researchers claim to have found vulnerabilities enabling attackers to eavesdrop and access user data traffic, distribute spoofed text messages, interrupt communications between base station and phones, block calls, disconnect users from the network and also access as well as manipulate data that is being transferred. The researchers are planning to present these at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in May.

“LTEFuzz successfully identified 15 previously disclosed vulnerabilities and 36 new vulnerabilities in design and implementation among the differ- ent carriers and device vendors. The findings were categorized into five vulnerability types. We also demonstrated several attacks that can be used for denying various LTE services, sending phishing messages, and eavesdropping/manipulating data traffic. We performed root cause analysis of the identified problems by reviewing the related standard and interviewing collaborators of the carriers,” said the researchers in the report.

Google’s security program has caught issues in 1 million apps in 5 years

Security is a common concern when it comes to smartphones and it has always been especially important for Android. Google has done a lot over the years to change Android’s reputation and improve security. Monthly Android security patches are just one part of the puzzle. Five years ago, the company launched the Application Security Improvement Program. Recently, they shared some of the success they’ve had.

First, a little information on the program. When an app is submitted to the Play Store, it gets scanned to detect a variety of vulnerabilities. If something is found, the app gets flagged and the developer is notified (above). Diagnosis is provided to help get the app back in good standing. Google doesn’t distribute those apps to Android users until the issues are resolved.

Google likens the process to a doctor performing a routine physical.

Google recently offered an update on its Application Security Improvement Program. First launched five years ago, the program has now helped more than 300,000 developers fix more than 1 million apps on Google Play. In 2018 alone, it resulted in over 30,000 developers fixing over 75,000 apps.

In the same year, Google says it deployed the following six additional security vulnerability classes:

▬ SQL Injection

▬ File-based Cross-Site Scripting

▬ Cross-App Scripting

▬ Leaked Third-Party Credentials

▬ Scheme Hijacking

▬ JavaScript Interface Injection

The list is always growing as Google continues to monitor and improve the capabilities of the program.

Google originally created the Application Security Improvement Program to harden Android apps. The goal was simple: help Android developers build apps without known vulnerabilities, thus improving the overall ecosystem.

Google understands that developers can make mistakes sometimes and they hope to help catch those issues for years to come. Security will continue to be a big talking point as technology evolves. It’s important for users to be able to trust the apps on their phones.

Google Wallet's PIN System can be easily cracked from rooted devices

Joshua Rubin, a security researcher at zvelo, have discovered that Google Wallet PIN can be cracked easily by brute forcing on a device that is "rooted".

Google Wallet is the first publicly available Near Field Communication (NFC) Payment System that purports to turn to your smartphone into a credit card, allows to purchase by entering a PIN .

In order to facilitate secure transactions,  NFC use hardware component called Secure Element(SE) which is used to store your confidential data such as the complete credit card number.

In order to authenticate users and grant access to the SE, Google Wallet requires a 4-digit, numeric PIN when first launching the app. Unfortunately, the PIN is not stored on the SE , but instead it is stored as a salted SHA256 Hash on the device itself.
"Knowing that the PIN can only be a 4-digit numeric value, it dawned on us that a brute-force attack would only require calculating, at most, 10,000 SHA256 hashes."Joshua Rubin said ." This is trivial even on a platform as limited as a smartphone. Proving this hypothesis took little time."

Google Wallet only allows five invalid PIN entry attempts before locking the user out,but with root access you can bruteforce the PIN without a single invalid attempt.

Rubin concludes that the only way to solve this issue would be to move the PIN verification into the SE itself and to no longer store the PIN hash and salt outside the SE.


Google has issued this statement on the matter:
The Zvelo study was conducted on their own phone on which they disabled the security mechanisms that protect Google Wallet by rooting the device. To date, there is no known vulnerability that enables someone to take a consumer phone and gain root access while preserving any Wallet information such as the PIN.

This confirms that there should be no issue unless your phone has already been rooted. If you have rooted your smartphone, Google strongly encourage you to not install Google Wallet and to always set up a screen lock as an additional layer of security for their phone.(like activating the lock screen, disabling the USB debugging option in settings, and enabling full-disk encryption).

Bit9 Dirty Dozen Report highlights the most vulnerable Smartphones of 2011

Bit9 release yearly vulnerability report that highlights the most vulnerable Smartphones.  Usually Bit9 releases its annual Dirty Dozen report to highlight software vulnerabilities and the risks they pose to both consumers and corporations.  But this year they changed the topic to Smartphone as the usage of Smartphones is increasing. 

According to their report, Smartphones Manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sanyo, LG and SONY were slow to upgrade phones to the latest and most secure version of Android .  56% of Android phones in marketplace today are running out of date and insecure Android operating system software. This results in their device is being hacked.

"All operating systems have vulnerabilities," Svedlove(Bit9 Chief Technology Officer) points out, but it's how quickly and effectively software gets fixed that matters

The Not-So-Smartphones of 2011
  • Samsung Galaxy Mini
  • HTC Desire
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
  • Sanyo Zio
  • HTC Wildfire
  • Samsung Epic 4G
  • LG Optimus S
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Motorola Droid X
  • LG Optimus One
  • Motorola Droid 2
  • HTC Evo 4G

To read the complete Bit9 Report of The Most Vulnerable Smartphones of 2011, click here.