Apple has been vigilant when it comes to securing its devices. Enough so that it has taken up a battle with the FBI over the security issue. Apple prides itself over iOS’s security. But, German hackers demonstrated that all phones are susceptible to a mobile network vulnerability.
The vulnerability requires nothing more than your mobile number to gain access. The flaw if exploited allow the hacker to track your position, listen to calls, and read your text messages. All smartphone are vulnerable to this exploit, including iPhone.
60 minutes invited the hackers to prove their theory by asking them to hack the brand new iPhone of Congressman Ted Lieu with just the phone number. The Congressman had agreed to this test. After successfully exploiting the vulnerability the hackers replayed the call recordings they had made to prove their claim.
Karsten Nohl, a German hacker, who has a doctorate in computer engineering from the University of Virginia, conducted the demonstration. The demonstration was carried out from a hacking conference in Berlin. In addition to recording calls and texts, the hacker also demonstrated that he was able to track the Congressman’s location.
He was able to accomplish this even with the iPhone’s GPS turned off by using mobile phone tower triangulation. Furthermore, he was able to get the mobile number of everyone who called the device. All of this was done just by using the mobile networks. Congressman Ted Lieu said that he was shocked by the demonstration.
“Last year, the president of the United States called me on my cellphone. And we discussed some issues. So if the hackers were listening in, they would know that phone conversation and the President’s mobile number. And that’s immensely troubling” said Congressman Ted Lieu.
According to Nohl, this vulnerability is not a new thing and a few quarters already know about it.
“The ability to intercept cellphone calls through the SS7 network is an open secret among the world’s intelligence agencies, including ours and they don’t necessarily want that hole plugged.” said Karsten Nohl.
The long going court battle between the FBI and Apple is over. But, the two are going to face off again in Congress tomorrow. Two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have also proposed a bill that will force companies to decrypt devices and smartphones for the law enforcement. Although one Senator is strictly against it and has vowed to block the legislation with a filibuster.