A security researcher has uncovered a new Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack against Nokia's Symbian Series 60 smartphone platform dubbed “the curse of silence.
According to an article on CNet
, the attack takes the form of a specially crafted SMS message which, once received by a vulnerable handset, prevents further – legitimate – messages from being accepted by the system.
Demonstrated by security researcher Tobias Engel
at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin last week, the receipt of an SMS containing a 'from' e-mail address of more than 32 characters causes devices based on versions 2.6, 2.8, 3.0 and 3.1 of Nokia's S60 platform to reject all further messages – in the case of 2.6 and 3.0, this happens after a single additional message gets through, with versions 2.8 and 3.1 clonk out after eleven further messages.
When the handset has entered the “curse of silence
” state, the only solution is a complete factory reset – which also erases all data held on the internal memory, along with address books and stored messages and images. Data held on external memory such as add-in cards would be unaffected.
Nokia has said that it is “aware of the vulnerability
” but “is not currently aware of any malicious incidents on the S60 platform related to this alleged issue and [does] not believe that it represents a significant risk to customers' devices.
” Accordingly, there is no firmware fix for the affected devices as yet – although the company is “working with the Symbian team to further investigate
” the issue.
The good news is that handsets running S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 – such as the company's popular N95 range – are unaffected by the attack. It is also possible to implement network-based filtering at the service provider level to reject delivery of a malformed SMS message, and Nokia has claimed that “many operators are looking into and actually already implementing network filtering to prevent this issue.
” Which operators that might be was not revealed by the company.
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