Tag Archives: mobile

Progress for GSM cracking in Freiburg university

The exciting world of mobile protocols (GSM, GSM-R, TETRA, UMTS, etc) hacking is getting official research activities from universities.

The investment to make opensource code releases of cracking software is giving the opportunity to students of university to work on it, improve it and do strong research.

The University of Freiburg just released the paper Practical exercise on the GSM Encryption A5/1 along with a gsmframencoder support tool to improve the sniffing, decoding and cracking process.

Opening hardware, opening software, opening protocol demonstrate the weakness of any kind of proprietary method or process to build-up communication and security technologies.

It should be the goal of any scientists to try to open-up and crack any kind of proprietary and closed technology to force the industry to goes on only with interoperable and open approach while designing telecommunication protocols.

TETRA hacking is coming: OsmocomTETRA

It’s very exciting to see the release of OsmocomTETRA, the first opensource SDR (Software Defined Radio) implementation of TETRA demodulator, PHY and lower MAC layers.

It’s the TETRA version of GSM airprobe that unlock access to the data and frame of TETRA communication protocol, thus giving great hacking opportunity!

Now that also TETRA technology has been opened we should expect, during this 2011, to see opensource TETRA sniffers and most probably also TEA encryption (the Tetra Encryption Algorithm) cracked!

TETRA is used by Police, Emergency Services and Militaries as an alternative mobile communication network that can works even without the availability of network coverage (only mobile-to-mobile without a base station) and provide some special high availability services.

I wrote about TETRA in my slide Major Voice Security Protocol Review .

In OsmocomBB mailing lists there was already discussion about some TETRA network status:

  • Belgium Police TETRA ASTRID network: unencrypted
  • German Police test TETRA network in Aachen: unencrypted
  • Some ex-jugoslawia TETRA network: unencrypted
  • Netherland C200 TETRA network: TEA2 encrypted with static keys
  • UK Airwave TETRA network: TEA2 encrypted with TEA2

It will be really fun to see that new Police and rescue service hacking coming back from old analog ages to the new digital radios :-)

ZORG, new C++ and Java ZRTP implementation public release

Hi all, today at PrivateWave Italia S.p.A, italian company engaged in developing technologies for privacy protection and information security in voice telecommunications where i am CTO, we release ZORG, a new open source ZRTP protocol implementation available for download from http://www.zrtp.org .

ZRTP [1] provides end-to-end key exchange with Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellmann 384bit and AES-256 SRTP encryption .

ZORG has been originally developed and implemented in PrivateWave’s PrivateGSM voice encryption products available for the following platforms: Blackberry, Nokia and iOS (iPhone) .

Zorg C++ has been integrated with PJSIP open source VoIP SDK [2] and it’s provided as integration patch against PJSIP 1.8.5. It has been tested on iPhone, Symbian, Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Zorg Java has been integrated within a custom version of MJSIP [3] open source SDK on Blackberry platform and it includes memory usage optimizations required to reduce at minimum garbage collector activity.

Both platforms have separated and modular cryptographic back-ends so that the cryptographic algorithms implementation could be easily swapped with other ones.

ZORG is licensed under GNU AGPL and source code is available on github at https://github.com/privatewave/ZORG .

We are releasing it under open source and in coherence with our approach to security [4] as we really hope that it can be useful for the open source ecosystem to create new voice encryption systems in support of freedom of speech.

More than 20 pjsip-based open source VoIP encryption software and several written in Java could directly benefit from ZORG release.

We would be happy to receive proposal of cooperation, new integration, new cryptographic back-ends, bug scouting and whatever useful to improve and let ZRTP affirm as voice encryption standard.

Zorg is available from http://www.zrtp.org .

[1] ZRTP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZRTP
[2] PJSIP: http://www.pjsip.org
[3] MJSIP: http://www.mjsip.org
[4] Security approach: http://www.privatewave.com/security/approch.html

Encrypted mobile to landline phone calls with Asterisk 1.8

We just released a technical howto on how to build up Secured mobile to landline VoIP infrastructure with:

In next weeks others howto like this one will come out by using other server platforms such as FreeSWITCH, all in the spirit of transparency and leverage of opensource security technologies.

PrivateGSM: Blackberry/iPhone/Nokia mobile voice encryption with ZRTP or SRTP/SDES

I absolutely avoid to use my own personal blog to make promotion of any kind of product.

That time it’s not different, but i want to tell you facts about products i work on without fancy marketing, but staying technical.

Today, at PrivateWave where i am CTO and co-founder, we released publicly mobile VoIP encryption products for Blackberry, iPhone and Nokia:

  • The 1st ever Blackberry encrypted VoIP with ZRTPPrivateGSM VoIP Professional
  • The 1st ever iPhone encrypted VoIP with ZRTPPrivateGSM VoIP Professional
  • The 1st ever Blackberry encrypted VoIP client with SRTP with SDES key exchange over SIP/TLS - PrivateGSM VoIP Enterprise

logo-privatewave-colore.png

At PrivateWave we use a different approach respect to most voice encryption company out there, read our approach to security .

The relevance of this products in the technology and industry landscape can be summarized as follow:

  • It’s the first voice encryption company using only standards security protocols (and we expect the market will react, as it’s clear that proprietary tech coming from the heritage of CSD cannot provide same value)
  • It’s the first approach in voice encryption to use only open source & standard encryption engine
  • It’s the first voice encryption approach to provide different security model using different technologies (end-to-end for ZRTP and end-to-site for SRTP)

Those suite of Mobile Secure Clients, designed for professional security use only using best telecommunication and security technologies, provide a high degree of protection along with good performance also in bad network conditions:

The applications are:

icona-pgsm.png

The supported mobile devices are:

Regarding ZRTP we decided to stress and stretch all the security and paranoid feature of the protocol with some little addition:

Our strict address book integration, goes beyond ZRTP RFC specification, that could be vulnerable to certain attacks when used on mobile phones because of user behavior of not to look at mobile screen.

Our paranoy way of using ZRTP mitigate such conditions, we will write about this later and/or will add specific details for RFC inclusion.

Some words on PrivateGSM Professional with end-to-end encryption with ZRTP

Read technical sheet there!

To download it click here and just put your phone number

Those are the results of hard work of all my very skilled staff (16 persons worked on this 6 projects for 3 different platforms) on challenging technologies (voice encryption) in a difficult operating environment (dirty mobile networks and dirty mobile operating systems) for more than 2 years.

I am very proud of our staff!

What next?

In next weeks you will see releasing of major set of documentations such as integration with asterisks, freeswitch and other Security Enabled PBX, along with some exciting other security technology news that i am sure will be noticed ;)

It has been an hard work and more have to be done but i am confident that the security and opensource community will like such products and our transparent approach also with open important releases and open source integration that make a very politically neutral (backdoor free) technology.

ESSOR, European Secure Software Defined Radio (SDR)

I had a look at European Defense Agency website and found the ESSOR project, a working project funded for 106mln EUR to develop strategic defense communication products based on new Software Defined Radio approach.

SDR approach is a revolutionary system that’s completely changing the way scientist and industry is approach any kind of wireless technology.

Basically instead of burning hardware chip that implement most of the radio frequency protocols and techniques, they are pushed in “software” to specialized radio hardware that can work on a lot of different frequency, acting as radio interface for a lot of different radio protocols.

For example the USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) from Ettus Research that cost 1000-2000USD fully loaded, trough the opensource GnuRadio framework, have seen opensource implementation of:

And a lot more protocols and transmission technologies.

That kind of new approach to Radio Transmission System is destinated to change the way radio system are implemented, giving new capability such as to upgrade the “radio protocol itself” in software in order to provide “radio protocol” improvements.

In the short terms we have also seen very strong security research using SDR technologies such as the GSM cracking and the Bluetooth Sniffing.

We can expect that other technologies, weak by design but protected by the restriction to hardware devices to hack the low level protocols, will be soon get hacked. In the first list i would really like to see the hacking of TETRA, a technology born with closed mindset and secret encryption algorithms, something i really dislike ;-)

Voice communication security workshop

Hi,

i made a talk about voice communication security technologies at University of Trento following an interesting information exchange with Crypto Lab managed Professor Massimiliano Sala .

I suggest interested people to read it, especially the second part, as there is an innovative categorization of the various voice encryption technologies that get used in several sectors.

I tried to explain and get out from this widely fragmented technological sector by providing a wide overview on technologies that usually are absolutely unrelated one-each-other but practically they all apply to voice encryption following that categorization:

  • Mobile TLC Industry voice encryption standards
  • Government and Military voice encryption standards
  • Public safety voice encryption standards
  • IETF voice encryption standards
  • Misc proprietary voice encryption technologies

It’s a huge slideware, 122 slides, i suggest to go reading the 2nd part skipping interception technologies overview already covered by my presentation of 2009.

Voice communication security

Especially i like the concept of Chocolate grade encryption that want to provide some innovation on the Snake Oil Encryption concept.

But i need to get more in depth about the Chocolate grade encryption context, will probably do before end-of-year by providing an applied course on understanding and evaluating practically the real security context of various voice encryption technologies.

Web2.0 privacy leak in Mobile apps

You know that web2.0 world it’s plenty of leak of any kind (profiling, profiling, profiling) related to Privacy and users starts being concerned about it.

Users continuously download applications without knowing the details of what they do, for example iFart just because are cool, are fun and sometime are useful.

thumb.php.jpg

On mobile phones users install from 1000% up to 10.000% more applications than on a PC, and those apps may contain malware or other unexpected functionalities.

Recently infobyte analyzed ubertwitter client and discovered that the client was leaking and sending to their server many personal and sensitive data such as:

- Blackberry PIN

- Phone Number

- Email Address

- Geographic positioning information

Read about UbertTwitter ‘spyware’ features discovery here by infoByte .

It’s plenty of applications leaking private and sensitive information but just nobody have a look at it.

Should mandatory data retention and privacy policies became part of application development and submission guideline for mobile application?

Imho a users must not only be warned about the application capabilities and API usage but also what will do with which kind of information it’s going to handle inside the mobile phone.

Capabilities means authorizing the application to use a certain functionalities, for example to use GeoLocation API, but what the application will do and to who will provide such information once the user have authorized it?

That’s a security profiling level that mobile phone manufacturer does not provide and they should, because it focus on the information and not on the application authorization/permission respect to the usage of device capabilities.

p.s. yes! ok! I agree! This kind of post would require 3-4 pages long discussion as the topic is hot and quite articulated but it’s saturday morning and i gotta go!

Blackberry Security and Encryption: Devil or Angel?

Blackberry have good and bad reputation regarding his security capability, depending from which angle you look at it.

This post it’s a summarized set of information to let the reader the get picture, without taking much a position as RIM and Blackberry can be considered, depending on the point of view, an extremely secure platform or an extremely dangerous one .

bblock.jpg

Let’s goes on.

On one side Blackberry it’s a platform plenty of encryption features, security features everywhere, device encrypted (with custom crypto), communication encrypted (with custom proprietary protocols such as IPPP), very good Advanced Security Settings, Encryption framework from Certicom (now owned by RIM).

On the other side they does not provide only a device but an overlay access network, called BIS (Blackberry Internet Service), that’s a global worldwide wide area network where your blackberry enter while you browse or checkmail using blackberry.net AP.

When you, or an application, use the blackberry.net APN you are not just connecting to the internet with the carrier internet connection, but you are entering inside the RIM network that will proxy and act as a gateway to reach the internet.

The very same happen when you have a corporate use: Both the BB device and the corporate BES connect to the RIM network that act as a sort of vpn concentration network.

So basically all the communications cross trough RIM service infrastructure in encrypted format with a set proprietary encryption and communication protocols.

Just as a notice, think that google to provide gtalk over blackberry.net APN, made an agreement in order to offer service inside the BB network to the BB users. When you install gtalk you get added 3 service books that point to GTALKNA01 that’s the name of GTALK gateway inside the RIM network to allow intra-BIS communication and act as a GTALK gateway to the internet.

The mobile operators usually are not even allowed to inspect the traffic between the Blackberry device and the Blackberry Network.

So RIM and Blackberry are somehow unique for their approach as they provide a platform, a network and a service all bundled together and you cannot just “get the device and the software” but the user and the corporate are always bound and connected to the service network.

That’s good and that’s bad, because it means that RIM provide extremely good security features and capabilities to protect information, device and access to information at various level against third party.

But it’s always difficult to estimate the threat and risk related to RIM itself and who could make political pressure against RIM.

Please consider that i am not saying “RIM is looking at your data” but making an objective risk analysis: for how the platform is done RIM have authority on the device, on the information on-the-device and on the information that cross the network. (Read my Mobile Security Slides).

For example let’s consider the very same context for Nokia phones.

Once the Nokia device is sold, Nokia does not have authority on the device, nor on the information on-the-device nor on the information that cross the network. But it’s also true that Nokia just provide the device and does not provide the value added services such as the Enterprise integration (The RIM VPN tunnel), the BIS access network and all the local and remote security provisioned features that Blackberry provide.

So it’s a matter of considering the risk context in the proper way when choosing the platform, with an example very similar to choosing Microsoft Exchange Server (on your own service) or whether getting a SaaS service like Google Apps.

In both case you need to trust the provider, but in first example you need to trust Microsoft that does not put a backdoor on the software while in the 2nd example you need to trust Google, as a platform and service provider, that does not access your information.

So it’s a different paradigm to be evaluated depending on your threat model.

If your threat model let you consider RIM as a trusted third party service provider (much like google) than it’s ok. If you have a very high risk context, like top-secret one, then let’s consider and evaluate carefully whether it’s not better to keep the Blackberry services fully isolated from the device or use another system without interaction with manufacturer servers and services.

Now, let’s get back to some research and some facts about blackberry and blackberry security itself.

First of all several governments had to deal with RIM in order to force them to provide access to the information that cross their service networks while other decided to directly ban Blackberry usage for high officials because of servers located in UK and USA, while other decided to install their own backdoors.

There’s a lot of discussion when the topics are RIM Blackberry and Governments for various reasons.

Below a set of official Security related information on RIM blackberry platform:

And here a set of unofficial Security and Hacking related information on RIM Blackberry platform:

Because it’s 23.32 (GMT+1), i am tired, i think that this post will end up here.

I hope to have provided the reader a set of useful information and consideration to go more in depth in analyzing and considering the overall blackberry security (in the good and in the bad, it always depends on your threat model!).

Cheers

Fabio Pietrosanti (naif)

p.s. i am managing security technology development (voice encryption tech) on Blackberry platform, and i can tell you that from the development point of view it’s absolutely better than Nokia in terms of compatibility and speed of development, but use only RIMOS 5.0+ !

Mobile Security talk at WHYMCA conference

I want to share some slides i used to talk about mobile security at whymca mobile conference in Milan.

Read here my slides on mobile security .

The slides provide a wide an in-depth overview of mobile security related matters, i should be doing some slidecast about it putting also audio. Maybe will do, maybe not, it depends on time that’s always a insufficient resource.

iPhone PIN: useless encryption

I recently switched one of my multiple mobile phones with which i go around to iPhone.

I am particularly concerned about data protection in case of theft and so started having a look around about the iPhone provided protection system.

There is an interesting set of iPhone Business Security Features that make me think that iPhone is moving in the right path for security protection of the phone, but still a lot of things has to be done, especially for serious Enterprise and Government users.

201006011551.jpg  

For example it turned out that the iPhone PIN protection is useless and it can be broken just plugging the iPhone to a Linux machine and accessing the device like a USB stick.

That’s something disturbing my paranoid mindset that make me think not to use sensitive data on my iPhone if i cannot protect my data.

Probably an iPhone independent disk encryption product would be very useful in order to let the market create protection schemas that fit the different risk contexts that different users may have.

Probably a general consumer is not worried about this PIN vulnerability but for me, working within highly confidential envirnonment such as intelligence, finance and military, it’s something that i cannot accept.

I need strong disk encryption on my mobile phone.

I do strong voice encryption for it, but it would be really nice to have also something to protect the whole iPhone data and not just phone calls.

Encryption is not scrambling: be aware of scrambler!

Most of us know about voice scrambler that can be used across almost any kind of voice based communication technology.

Extremely flexible approach: works everything

Extreme performance: very low latency

but unfortunately…

Extremely weak: Scrambling cannot be considered secure.

Only encryption can be considered secure under the Kerckoff’s principle .

So please don’t even consider any kind of analog scrambler if you need real security.

Read deeply the paper Implementation of a real-time voice encryption system” by Markus Brandau, especially the cryptoanalysis paragraph.

About the SecurStar GmbH Phonecrypt voice encryption analysis (criteria, errors and different results)

This article want to clarify and better explain the finding at infosecurityguard.com regaring voice encryption product evaluation.
This article want to tell you a different point of view other than infosecurityguard.com and explaining which are the rational with extensive explaination from security point of view.
Today i read news saying: “PhoneCrypt: Basic Vulnerability Found in 12 out of 15 Voice Encryption Products and went to read the website infosecurityguard.

Initially it appeared to my like a great research activity but then i started reading deeply the read about it.I found that it’s not properly a security research but there is are concrete elements that’s a marketing campaign well done in order to attract public media and publicize a product.
Imho they was able to cheat journalists and users because the marketing campaign was absolutely well done not to be discovered on 1st read attempt. I personally considered it like a valid one on 1st ready (they cheated me initially!).

But if you go deeply… you will understand that:
- it’s a camouflage marketing initiative arranged by SecurStar GmbH and not a independent security research
- they consider a only security context where local device has been compromised (no software can be secured in that case, like saying SSL can be compromised if you have a trojan!)
- they do not consider any basic security and cryptographic security criteria

However a lot of important website reported it:

This article is quite long, if you read it you will understand better what’s going on around infosecurityguard.com research and research result.

I want to to tell you why and how (imho) they are wrong.

The research missed to consider Security, Cryptography and Transparency!

Well, all this research sound much like being focused on the marketing goal to say that their PhoneCrypt product is the “super” product best of all the other ones.
Any security expert that would have as duty the “software evaluation” in order to protect the confidentiality of phone calls will evaluate other different characteristics of the product and the technology.

Yes, it’s true that most of the product described by SecurStar in their anonymous marketing website called http://infosecurityguard.com have some weakness.
But the relevant weakness are others and PhoneCrypt unfortunately, like most of the described products suffer from this.
Let’s review which characteristics are needed basic cryptography and security requirement (the best practice, the foundation and the basics!)

a – Security Trough Obscurity does not work

A basic rule in cryptography cames from 1883 by Auguste Kerckhoffs:

In a well-designed cryptographic system, only the key needs to be secret; there should be no secrecy in the algorithm.
Modern cryptographers have embraced this principle, calling anything else “security by obscurity.”
Read what Bruce Schneir, recognized expert and cryptographer in the world say about this
Any security expert will tell you that’s true. Even a novice university student will tell you that’s true. Simply because that’s the only way to do cryptography.
Almost all product described in the review by SecurStar GmbH, include PhoneCrypt, does not provide precise details about their cryptographic technologies.
Precise details are:
  • Detailed specification of cryptographic algorithm (that’s not just saying “we use AES“)
  • Detailed specification of cryptographic protocol (that’s not just saying “we use Diffie Hellman” )
  • Detailed specification of measuring the cryptographic strenght (that’s not just saying “we have 10000000 bit key size“)

Providing precise details means having extensive documentation with theoretical and practical implications documenting ANY single way of how the algorithm works, how the protocol works with precise specification to replicate it for interoperability testing.
It means that scientific community should be able to play with the technology, audit it, hack it.
If we don’t know anything about the cryptographic system in details, how can we know which are the weakness and strength points?

Mike Fratto, Site editor of Network Computing, made a great article on “Saying NO to proprietary cryptographic systems” .
Cerias Purdue University tell this.

b – NON peer reviewed and NON scientifically approved Cryptography does not work

In any case and in any condition you do cryptography you need to be sure that someone else will check, review, analyze, distruct and reconstract from scratch your technology and provide those information free to the public for open discussion.
That’s exactly how AES was born and like US National Institute of Standard make crypto does (with public contest with public peer review where only the best evaluated win).
A public discussion with a public contest where the a lot of review by most famous and expert cryptographer in the world, hackers (with their name,surname and face, not like Notrax) provide their contribution, tell what they thinks.
That’s called “peer review”.

If a cryptographic technology has an extended and important peer review, distributed in the world coming from universities, private security companies, military institutions, hackers and all coming from different part of the world (from USA to Europe to Russia to South America to Middle east to China) and all of them agree that a specific technology it’s secure…
Well, in that case we can consider the technology secure because a lot of entities with good reputation and authority coming from a lot of different place in the world have publicly reviewed, analyzed and confirmed that a technology it’s secure.

How a private company can even think to invent on it’s own a secure communication protocol when it’s scientifically stated that it’s not possible to do it in a “proprietary and closed way” ?
IBM tell you that peer review it’s required for cryptography.
Bruce Schneier tell you that “Good cryptographers know that nothing substitutes for extensive peer review and years of analysis.”
Philip Zimmermann will tell you to beware of Snake Oil where the story is: “Every software engineer fancies himself a cryptographer, which has led to the proliferation of really bad crypto software.”

c – Closed source cryptography does not work

As you know any kind of “serious” and with “good reputation” cryptographic technology is implemented in opensource.
There are usually multiple implementation of the same cryptographic algorithm and cryptographic protocol to be able to review all the way it works and certify the interoperability.
Supposing to use a standard with precise and extended details on “how it works”, that has been “peer reviewed” by the scientific community BUT that has been re-implemented from scratch by a not so smart programmer and the implementation it’s plenty of bugs.

Well, if the implementation is “opensource” this means that it can be reviewed, improved, tested, audited and the end user will certaintly have in it’s own had a piece of technology “that works safely” .

Google release opensource crypto toolkit
Mozilla release opensource crypto toolkit
Bruce Schneier tell you that Cryptography must be opensource.

Another cryptographic point of view

I don’t want to convince anyone but just provide facts related to science, related to cryptography and security in order to reduce the effect of misinformation done by security companies whose only goes is to sell you something and not to do something that make the world a better.

When you do secure products, if they are not done following the proper approach people could die.
It’s absolutely something irresponsible not to use best practice to do crypto stuff.

To summarize let’s review the infosecurityguard.com review from a security best pratice point of view.

Product name Security Trough Obscurity Public peer review Open Source Compromise locally?
Caspertec Obscurity No public review Closed Yes
CellCrypt Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Cryptophone Transparency Limited public review Public Yes
Gold-Lock Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Illix Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
No1.BC Obscurity No public review
Closed
Yes
PhoneCrypt Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Rode&Swarz Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Secure-Voice Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
SecuSmart Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
SecVoice Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
SegureGSM Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
SnapCell Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Tripleton Obscurity
No public review
Closed
Yes
Zfone Transparency Public review
Open Yes
ZRTP Transparency Public review
Open Yes

*Green means that it match basic requirement for a cryptographic secure system

* Red / Broken means that it does not match basic requirement for a cryptographic secure system
That’s my analysis using a evaluation method based on cryptographic and security parameters not including the local compromise context that i consider useless.

However, to be clear, those are only basic parameters to be used when considering a voice encryption product (just to avoid being in a situation that appears like i am promoting other products). So it may absolutely possible that a product with good crypto (transparency, peer reviewed and opensource) is absolutely a not secure product because of whatever reason (badly written, not usable causing user not to use it and use cleartext calls, politically compromised, etc, etc).
I think i will prepare a broader criteria for voice crypto technologies and voice crypto products, so it would be much easier and much practical to have a full transparent set of criterias to evaluate it.

But those are really the basis of security to be matched for a good voice encryption system!
Read some useful past slides on security protocols used in voice encryption systems (2nd part).

Now read below some more practical doubt about their research.

The security concept of the review is misleading: any hacked device can be always intercepted!

I think that the guys completely missed the point: ANY KIND OF SOFTWARE RUNNING ON A COMPROMISED OPERATING SYSTEM CAN BE INTERCEPTED

Now they are pointing out that also Zfone from Philip Zimmermann is broken (a pc software), just because they install a trojan on a PC like in a mobile phone?
Any security software rely on the fact that the underlying operating system is somehow trusted and preserve the integrity of the environment where the software run.

  • If you have a disk encryption system but your PC if infected by a trojan, the computer is already compromised.
  • If you have a voice encryption system but your PC is infected by a trojan, the computer is already compromised.
  • If you have a voice encryption system but your mobile phone is infected by a trojan, the mobile phone is already compromised.

No matter which software you are running, in such case the security of your operating environment is compromised and in one way or another way all the information integrity and confidentiality is compromised.

Like i explained above how to intercept PhoneCrypt.

The only things that can protect you from this threat is running in a closed operating system with Trust Computing capability, implementing it properly.
For sure on any “Open” operating system such us Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, iPhone or Android there’s no chance to really protect a software.
On difficult operating system such as Symbian OS or RimOS maybe the running software can be protected (at least partially)

That’s the reason for which the security concept that guys are leveraging to carry on their marketing campaign has no clue.
It’s just because they control the environment, they know Flexispy software and so they adjusted their software not to be interceptable when Flexispy is installed.
If you develop a trojan with the other techniques i described above you will 100% intercept PhoneCrypt.

On that subject also Dustin Tammel, Security researcher of BreakPoint Systems, pointed on on VoIP Security Alliance mailing lists that the security analysis is based on wrong concepts.

The PhoneCrypt can be intercepted: it’s just that they don’t wanted to tell you!

PhoneCrypt can be intercepted with “on device spyware”.
Why?
Because Windows Mobile is an unsecure operating environment and PhoneCrypt runs on Windows Mobile.
Windows Mobile does not use Trusted Computing and so any software can do anything.
The platform choice for a secure telephony system is important.
How?
I quickly discussed with some knowledgeable windows mobile hackers about 2 different way to intercept PhoneCrypt with an on-device spyware (given the unsecure Windows Mobile Platform).

a) Inject a malicious DLL into the software and intercept from within the Phonecrypt itself.
In Windows Mobile any software can be subject to DLL code injection.
What an attacker can do is to inject into the PhoneCrypt software (or any software running on the phone), hooking the Audio related functions acting as a “function proxy” between the PhoneCrypt and the real API to record/play audio.
It’s a matter of “hooking” only 2 functions, the one that record and the one that play audio.
Read the official Microsoft documentation on how to do DLL injection on Windows Mobile processes. or forum discussing the technique of injecting DLL on windows mobile processes.
That’s simple, any programmer will tell you to do so.
They simply decided that’s better not to make any notice about this.
b) Create a new audio driver that simply act as a proxy to the real one and intercept PhoneCrypt
In Windows Mobile you can create new Audio Drivers and new Audio Filters.
What an attacker can do is to load a new audio driver that does not do anything else than passing the real audio driver function TO/FROM the realone. In the meantime intercept everything recorded and everything played :-)
Here there is an example on how to do Audio driver for Windows Mobile .
Here a software that implement what i explain here for Windows “Virtual Audio Cable” .
The very same concept apply to Windows Mobile. Check the book “Mobile Malware Attack and Defense” at that link explaining techniques to play with those techniques.
They simply decided that’s better not to make any notice to that way of intercepting phone call on PhoneCrypt .
Those are just 2 quick ideas, more can be probably done.

Sounds much like a marketing activity – Not a security research.

I have to tell you. I analyzed the issue very carefully and on most aspects. All this things about the voice encryption analisys sounds to me like a marketing campaign of SecurStar GmbH to sell PhoneCrypt and gain reputation. A well articulated and well prepared campaign to attract the media saying, in an indirect way cheating the media, that PhoneCrypt is the only one secure. You see the press releases of SecurStar and of the “Security researcher Notrax telling that PhoneCrypt is the only secure product” . SecurStar PhoneCrypt is the only product the anonymous hacker “Notrax” consider secure of the “software solutions”.
The only “software version” in competition with:

SnapCell – No one can buy it. A security company that does not even had anymore a webpage. The company does not almost exist anymore.
rohde-schawarz – A company that have in his list price and old outdated hardware secure phone . No one would buy it, it’s not good for genera use.

Does it sounds strange that only those other products are considered secure along with PhoneCrypt .

Also… let’s check the kind of multimedia content in the different reviews available of Gold-Lock, Cellcrypt and Phonecrypt in order to understand how much the marketing guys pressed to make the PhoneCrypt review the most attractive:

Application Screenshots of application Video with demonstration of interception Network demonstration
PhoneCrypt 5 0 1
CellCrypt 0 2 0
GoldLock 1 2 0

It’s clear that PhoneCrypt is reviewed showing more features explicitly shown and major security features product description than the other.

Too much difference between them, should we suspect it’s a marketing tips?

But again other strange things analyzing the way it was done…
If it was “an impartial and neutral review” we should see good and bad things on all the products right?

Ok, see the table below regarding the opinion indicated in each paragraph of the different reviews available of Gold-Lock, CellCrypt and Phonecrypt (are the only available) to see if are positive or negative.

Application Number of paragraphs Positive paragraphs Negative paragraphs Neutral paragraphs
PhoneCrypt 9 9 0 0
CellCrypt 12 0 10 2
GoldLock 9 0 8 1

Detailed paragraphs opinion analysis of Phonecrypt
Paragraph of review Opinion expressed
From their website Positive Marketing feedback
Apple iPhone Positive Marketing feedback
Disk Encryption or voice Encryption Positive Marketing feedback
PBX Compatibility? Really Positive Marketing feedback
Cracking <10. Not. Positive Marketing feedback
Good thinking! Positive Marketing feedback
A little network action Positive Marketing feedback
UI Positive Marketing feedback
Good Taste Positive Marketing feedback
Detailed paragraphs opinion analysis of Gold-Lock 3G
Paragraph of review Opinion expressed
From their website Negative Marketing feedback
Licensed by The israeli Ministry of Denfese Negative Marketing feedback
Real Company or Part Time hobby Negative Marketing feedback
16.000 bit authentication Negative Marketing feedback
DH 256 Negative Marketing feedback
Downad & Installation! Neutral Marketing feedback
Cracking it <10 Negative Marketing feedback
Marketing BS101 Negative Marketing feedback
Cool video stuff Negative Marketing feedback
Detailed paragraphs opinion analysis of CellCrypt
Paragraph of review Opinion expressed
From their website Neutral Marketing feedback
A little background about cellcrypt Negative Marketing feedback
Master of Marketing Negative Marketing feedback
Secure Voice calling Negative Marketing feedback
Who’s buying their wares Negative Marketing feedback
Downad & Installation! Neutral Marketing feedback
My Demo environment Negative Marketing feedback
Did they forget some code Negative Marketing feedback
Cracking it <5 Negative Marketing feedback
Room Monitoring w/ FlexiSpy Negative Marketing feedback
Cellcrypt unique features.. Negative Marketing feedback
Plain old interception Negative Marketing feedback
The Haters out there Negative Marketing feedback

Now it’s clear that from their point of view on PhoneCrypt there is no single bad point while the other are always described in a negative way.
No single good point. Strange?
All those considerations along with the next ones really let me think that’s very probably a marketing review and not an independent review.

Other similar marketing attempt from SecurStar

SecurStar GmbH is known to have used in past marketing activity leveraging this kind of “technical speculations”, abusing of partial information and fake unconfirmed hacking stuff to make marketing/media coverage.
Imho a rare mix of unfairness in leveraging the difficult for people to really understand the complexity of security and cryptography.

They already used in past Marketing activities like the one about creating a trojan for Windows Mobile and saying that their software is secure from the trojan that they wrote.
Read about their marketing tricks of 2007

They developed a Trojan (RexSpy) for Windows Mobile, made a demonstration capability of the trojan and later on told that they included “Anti-Trojan” capability to their PhoneCrypt software.They never released informations on that trojan, not even proved that it exists.

The researcher Collin Mulliner told at that time that it sounds like a marketing tips (also because he was not able to get from SecurStar CEO Hafner any information about that trojan):

“This makes you wonder if this is just a marketing thing.”

Now, let’s try to make some logical reassignment.
It’s part of the way they do marketing, an very unfriendly and unpolite approach with customers, journalist and users trying to provide wrong security concepts for a market advantage. Being sure that who read don’t have all the skills to do in depth security evaluation and find the truth behind their marketing trips.

Who is the hacker notrax?

It sounds like a camouflage of a fake identity required to have an “independent hacker” that make an “independent review” that is more strong on reputation building.
Read about his bio:

¾ Human, ¼ Android (Well that would be cool at least.) I am just an enthusiast of pretty much anything that talks binary and if it has a RS232 port even better. During the day I masquerade as an engineer working on some pretty cool projects at times, but mostly I do the fun stuff at night. I have been thinking of starting an official blog for about 4.5 years to share some of the things I come across, can’t figure out, or just cross my mind. Due to my day job and my nighttime meddling, I will update this when I can. I hope some find it useful, if you don’t, well you don’t.

There are no information about this guy on google.
Almost any hacker that get public have articles online, post in mailing archive and/or forum or some result of their activity.
For notrax, nothing is available.

Additionally let’s look at the domain…
The domain infosecurityguard.com is privacy protected by domainsbyproxy to prevent understanding who is the owner.
The domain has been created 2 months ago on 01-Dec-09 on godaddy.com registrar.

What’s also very interesting to notice that this “unknown hacker with no trace on google about him that appeared on December 2009 on the net” is referred on SecurStar GmbH Press Release as a “An IT security expert”.

Maybe they “know personally” who’s this anonymous notrax? :)

Am i following my own conspiracy thinking or maybe there’s some reasonable doubt that everything was arrange in that funny way just for a marketing activity?

Social consideration

If you are a security company you job have also a social aspects, you should also work to make the world a better place (sure to make business but “not being evil”). You cannot cheat the skills of the end users in evaluating security making fake misleading information.

You should do awareness on end users, to make them more conscious of security issues, giving them the tools to understand and decide themselves.

Hope you had fun reading this article and you made your own consideration about this.

Fabio Pietrosanti (naif)

p.s. Those are my personal professional opinion, let’s speak about technology and security, not marketing.
p.p.s. i am not that smart in web writing, so sorry for how the text is formatted and how the flow of the article is unstructured!

Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense? How things really works!

You should know that Israel is a country where if a company need to develop encryption product they must be authorized by the government.

The government don’t want that companies doing cryptography can do anything bad to them and what they can do of good for the government, so they have to first be authorized.

Companies providing interception and encryption must apply to a license because Israel law on this is so restrictive to be similar to china law.

That’s because those kind of technologies are considered fundamental for the intelligence and espionage capabilities of Israel country.

To give some example of “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” companies:

GSM encryption products “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” – Gold-lock

Interception of communication products “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” – Verint

HF encrypted Radio “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” – Kavit

Surveillance services and equipment “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” – Multi Tier Solutions

For example how to apply for a “License by Israel Ministry of Defense” if you do encryption technologies in Israel?

Be sure to be an israeli company, click here and fill the forms.

Someone will contact you from encryption-control@mod.gov.il and will discuss with you whether to give you or not the license to sell.

What does the department of defense will require from an israeli company in order to provide them the authorization to make and sell interception and encryption products?

Well, what they want and what they really ask nobody knows.

It’s a secret dealing of Israel Ministry of Defense with each “licensed” company.

What we know for sure is that Verint, a “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense”, placed a backdoor to intercept companies and governments in the US and Netherland into the interception systems they was selling.

Verint, a Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense Company, provided to Israel government eavesdropped communications of private and government users in the United States and in the Netherland .

CIA officier reported that Israel Ministry of Defense was known to pay Verint a reimbursement of 50% of their costs in order to have from Verint espionage services trough their commercial activity on selling “backdoored” interception equipment to spy foreign users.


It can be a legitimate doubt that the cooperation within the Israeli Ministry of Defense may be problematic for an Israeli company that want to sell interception and encryption product abroad.

Those companies may be forced to make the interests of Israel Ministry of Defense and not the interests of the customers (like Verint scandal is a real-world example).

So, how would a “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense” be a good things to promote?

It represent the risk that the “Israel Ministry of Defense”, like is publicly known that it has already have done with Verint, will interfere with what the company do.

It represent the risk that the “Israel Ministry of Defense” may reasonably provide “reimbursement” of costs paying the company and get what they would likely would like to get.

So, what does really “Israel Ministry of Defense” want from Israel companies doing encryption and interception technologies?

Should we ask ourself whether Israeli companies doing encryption and interception businesses are more interested to do business or to do “outsourced espionage services” for their always paying customer, the “Israel Ministry of Defense”.

For sure, in the age of financial crisis, the Israel Ministry of Defense is a paying customer that does not have budget problem…

Strict control, strict rules, strong government strategic and military cooperation.

Be careful.

If you want to read more about this matters, about how technologies from certain countries is usually polluted with their governments military and secret services strategies stay tuned as i am preparing a post about this .

You will much better understand about that subjects on the “Licensed by Israel Ministry of Defense”.

O3B Networks: a new satellite broadband approach

That’s something amazing, “other 3 billion” broadband coverage not trough fiber but trough satellite.

A project where also google is one of the shareholder, covering 3 billion persons trough low orbit, low latency broadband (10GBit) satellite network.

Check here technical infrastructure details on ITU website.

Location Based Services: the big brother thanks you ;-)

Do you use your iphone, google phone, blackberry or nokia smartphone with cool built-in GPS?

Well law enforcement can now know even better where you are, at any time, even with historical data and much better than BTS based location systems.

Sprint has given 8 million times customer’s GPS information to law enforcement (sound something like a semi-automatic request).

Read here.

Nice extract is:

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

The informations was provided at wiretapping and interception industry conference ISS WASH in Washingtown.

If you want see directly the video:


Sprint: 50 million customers, 8 million law enforcement GPS requests in 1 year from Christopher Soghoian on Vimeo.


Then you know that “big brother” is watching you only because you let him to watch you.

Gold-Lock Security Encryption Contest: be careful!

This post is to talk about the “unfair” marketing approach of Gold-Lock, an israeli company doing mobile voice encryption authorized by Israeli Ministry of Defence .

Following an announcement seen on Linkedin “Information Security Community” group:

GoldLock is offering US$ 100.000 and a job for an unencryption

GoldLock, an israeli encryption and security company is offering US$ 100.000 and a job to anyone capable to decrypt a cellular conversation contained in a file provided in their site ( https://www.gold-lock.com/app/en/?wicket:interface=:8 ::::).
The transcription must be sent back to GoldLock until February 1st, 2010.
The contest is open to all and any tools or technology may be used.
Good luck to all!!!

I commented:

Not having a public protocol specification is not even scientifically serious to make a marketing tricks like this.
I would say to gold-lock, let’s release the source code and let anyone compile the cryptographic engine if you trust not to to have something nasty inside… ;)

Toni Koivunen from F-secure said:

So… They will pay $100k if you get through the AES and the hassle with keys.
If someone would pull it off they would certainly make a truckload more money elsewhere. Plus they would retain the rights to the code/technology that they created, which isn’t the case if they go for the $100k since the License pretty clearly says that:
# An assignment letter to Gold Line, in a form satisfactory to Gold Line of your technology and the Work Plan (the “Technology”). Such assignment form shall enable Gold Line to transfer the rights on the Technology to Gold Line, including the right to register patents and all other rights.
# A release and waiver form, in a form satisfactory to Gold Line, duly executed by you and any other participant of any rights to the Technology.
Plus of course Gold Line retains the right to change the rules of the game with prior notice. Or needing to notify afterwards either.
Sounds fair :)

Michel Scovetta from Computer Associates said:

It sounds like the purpose of this is to get some cheap testing out of it, and to be able to say something like, “The best crypto experts in the world tried to break it, and were unable to.”

According to some of the docs on Gold Lock’s website, they use ECC-256 and a “modified DH key exchange” (which tingles my spidey senses), SHA-256, and then XOR for the actual data encryption. They use practically blasphemous language like, “Each component of the Gold Lock Enterprise solution is tested and proven secure against any conceivable attack.”

*Proven* secure? *Any conceivable* attack? Yikes!

In another doc on their site, they talk about their first layer relying on 1024-bit RSA. GoDaddy doesn’t even allow 1024-bit keys to be used anymore when generating $20 SSL certificates. They quote 300 billion MIPS-years to break, but if my math is correct, that comes down to about 52 days on the top supercomputer right now. Not trivial, but this is an offline attack, so time is on the side of the attacker.

The description then talks about the device generating 16k keys when you register the device. If the protocol is “secure”, then it should be “secure” with only a single key. If it’s not secure with a single key, then generating 16k keys could only make it 16k times more secure, which is far off from a proof of security.

I agree with Fabio – a fair contest would be to include source code and the cryptographic specification. Also, as other contests have proven (e.g. SecureWebMail), the weakest point isn’t usually the cryptography. It’s all of the other stuff, and it doesn’t look like any of it is being disclosed for the contest.

http://xkcd.com/538/

Mike

I would say that all those considerations from security experts from well known and established security companies bring us to consider that:

  • Gold-lock is not transparent on their encryption at all and they work trough bad practice of Security Trough Obscurity (no one know what’s inside the product)
  • Gold-lock is not playing a fair game by proposing this ‘security contest’
  • Gold-lock being certified by Israeli ministry of defence may raise doubt related to possible relationship with the intelligence… Read by post Certified by Israeli MInistry of Defense.

Voice security is a sensible matters and lacks of transparency and governmental relationship for cryptographic choices usually does not provide anything good…

Think about it…

Iphone jailbreaking crashing towers? FUD!

It’s interesting to read a news about an anti-jailbreaking statement by apple that say that with jailbreaked phones it may be possible to crash mobile operator’s towers:

By tinkering with this code, “a local or international hacker could potentially initiate commands (such as a denial of service attack) that could crash the tower software, rendering the tower entirely inoperable to process calls or transmit data,”

So fun, as the Baseband Processor interface of iPhone is precisely the same of Google android and all Windows Mobile powered devices:

Basically the operating system use AT commands (do you remember old hayes modem commands?) with additional parameters documented and standardized by 3GPP that let more deep (but not that much deep) interaction with the mobile networks.

Please note that those AT commands are standard and widely available on all phones and are the interface to the Baseband Processor.

On iPhone that’s the list of commands that an from apple point of view could let “a international hacker to crash the tower software” :

Undocumented commands on iPhone

Damn, those European anarchist of Nokia are providing publicly also their AT command sets, and are AVAILABLE TO ANYONE:

Nokia AT Commands

Oh jesus! Also the terrorist oriented Microsoft corporation let third party to use AT commands:

Windows Mobile AT Commands

It’s absolutely unacceptable that also RIM, canadian funky against USA, provide access to AT commands:

Blackberry AT commands

And it’s unbelivable to see that Google Android also document how the system speak to the Baseband Processor and find on forums that it’s ease to access it:

Google Android Basedband Processor

Not to speak to ALL other mobile manufactuer that use the very same approach and let any party to speak via AT commands to the baseband processor of the phone.

Is the baseband processor of iphone buggy and the AT&T tower software buggy so that it’s dangerous to let the user make experiment with it?

Probably yes, and so those are only excuse because the software involved are not robust enough.

Apple, be careful, you have the trust of your users because you are apple you always have done things for the user advantages.

Users does like telephone companies that are huge lobbies that try to restrict and control users as much as possible.

If you, Apple, start behaving like a phone company users will not trust you anymore.

Be careful with FUD statements.

Nokia World in Stuttgard 2-3 September

Everyone who’s business is directly connected to mobile, aggregators, operators and generally speaking mobility application should really attend Nokia World where most of the world key people in the mobile business .

It’s extremely interesting to see the evolution of the business models related to the Application Portals, how the mobile operators are changing their approach to the market, the increasing of value added services related to mobile industry.

And the most important things is, the mobile operators will be able to became financial operators to really provide mobile payment systems integrated into any day digital life?

And if this will happen, how the manufacturer and operating system provider will play this game?

Mobile platform hacking: worms and botnet from phones?

The hacking community is finally starting seriously auditing and hacking Symbian OS, even if it’s difficult, hard to work on, unpleasant to debug it .

There are so many mobile operating systems (Symbian OS, Nokia S40, Windows Mobile, RIM OS, Mac OS X, Android/Linux, Brew) that a worm/virus being able to leverage a cross-platform vulnerability it’s just a theory.

Trusted computing platforms, security model of J2ME Java only phones (like RIM and S40), digital signature everywhere are all tools that make massive hacking on mobile platform really difficult.

It’s difficult and costly to develop on mobile platforms, it’s difficult and costly too doing hacking on that platforms.

Still look at a very nice achievement of paper from SEC Consult called Pwning Nokia phones (and other Symbian based smartphones) .

Can we expect future worms or botnet on mobile? I don’t expect so, too many different OS with hard-to-beat security model.

And even if a worm would be able to penetrate a single mobile paltform bugs, mobile operators would be able to block it very quickly (compare how many GSM/UMTS operator exists compared to Internet Service Provider?).