A malicious wireless tag has been created that can crack an Android phone in seconds.
The tag exploits a vulnerability in near field communication (NFC), a wireless technology popular on Android phones that establishes communication between devices through physical contact.
Well-known Apple hacker and Accuvant researcher Charlie Miller wowed the crowed at Black Hat Las Vegas through a demo that involved infiltrating an Android phone by simply grazing it with a tag embedded with an NFC chip.
|Black Hat 2012 coverage|
Once the phone was tagged, the browser opened to a phony web page that gave Miller full access to the data on the device.
The exploited Android vulnerability was already patched by Google, but Miller also discovered a similar bug in Nokia N9 which runs on the MeeGo platform.
Miller told SC he decided to focus his latest research on the little researched NFC technology because exploiting it does not require user interaction.
"I'm always looking for something to pick on," he said.
Miller believes the lack of in the wild attacks against NFC may be because the technology still isn't prevalent.
"If you imagine a time when you're always paying with your phone, these [attacks] would be everywhere," he said. "Replacing NFC tags with malicious ones are totally realistic. It's the equivalent of ATM skimming."
There is a way to make the technology more secure, such as prompting a user to opt in to each exchange they make, but the solution would affect the convenience of NFC, Miller said.
"You would have to give up some of that convenience to make it more secure," he said.