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Google Nexus phones are vulnerable to rebooting via SMS attack

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Google Nexus phones are vulnerable to rebooting via SMS attack
A vulnerability has been found that seems to only affect Google Nexus devices, although it isn't exactly all that serious of a vulnerability. The issue was found by Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at Dutch IT services company Levi9, and presented at the DefCamp security conference in Bucharest, Romania today. The issue can lead to Nexus phones rebooting via an SMS attack.

The issue is caused by Class 0 SMS, or Flash SMS, which is a type of message that is immediately displayed on screen on top of all other apps until the user dismisses or saves it. Alecu showed that on the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, or Nexus 5 running Android 4.x is vulnerable to rebooting or freezing if about 30 of these SMS messages are received and not dismissed quickly enough. Luckily, that's really the worst that can come of the vulnerability and none of your data can be compromised. 

And, there are also a number of apps (including one made by Alecu himself) that can help you limit the number of Flash SMS messages that will be accepted by your device, which can help you to avoid the issue. Alecu tested the attack on about 20 non-Nexus devices and none showed the same vulnerability. Alecu found the issue about one year ago and has tried to contact Google a number of times regarding the flaw, and received a response claiming that the issue would be fixed in Android 4.3, but it wasn't. When PCWorld contacted Google for a comment on the story, a Google representative said, "We thank him for bringing the possible issue to our attention and we are investigating."

source: PCWorld

14 Comments
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posted on 29 Nov 2013, 14:20 12

1. AfterShock (Posts: 2798; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


They would need to know your phone number and to know you have a nexus for this to work... Seems like it's not much of an issue.

posted on 30 Nov 2013, 12:04

14. jos_031 (Posts: 32; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


trolling my house mate sending flash message to his nexus 5 after aeeing the news

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 14:51 2

2. dratomic (Posts: 460; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)


aha. i didnt know why i dont like nexi until i saw this!!

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 14:52 5

3. AfterShock (Posts: 2798; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Fall down the stairs much as a child?

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 16:08 2

6. Finalflash (Posts: 1671; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


No, the way he's talking I think the case is of him being pushed down the stairs....alas all attempts failed to yield a permanent solution to the problem of his existence.

posted on 30 Nov 2013, 02:30

10. AfterShock (Posts: 2798; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


I had never considered that angle.
That made me chuckle.

+1

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 15:39 2

4. zekes (Posts: 207; Member since: 14 Aug 2012)


Oh no more security issues not surprised this is the freedom of open source you could have any virus on your phone for free

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 15:46 12

5. blazee (Posts: 270; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


read the article before posting

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 16:34 2

7. sprockkets (Posts: 1160; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


OK MR HOLLISTER MODEL

posted on 30 Nov 2013, 02:36

11. AfterShock (Posts: 2798; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


The potential really is for malware, which is a sideload issue, which all are susceptible to really there Skippy.
Honestly your the type I'd suspect of getting a virus if not protected from your usage/habits.

posted on 30 Nov 2013, 08:06 2

12. sprockkets (Posts: 1160; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


He's more susceptible to the viruses transmitted through other means...

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 17:45 1

8. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1047; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


I'm not even sure what this means so I'm not too worried.

posted on 29 Nov 2013, 17:58 1

9. Tsoliades (Posts: 211; Member since: 22 Dec 2012)


Basically, if you know how to do it, you can send a few texts to a Nexus phone and freeze it. Not a big deal.

posted on 30 Nov 2013, 09:35

13. cripton805 (Posts: 917; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


Basically if you have jerks for friends, they can spam you with 30+ flash messages and freeze/reboot your phone. I say that because it would have to be someone you know since this only works on Nexus devices. People arent going to send texts to random numbers wondering if they have a Nexus. Not much of a prank if it doesnt work.

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