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[Q] Hotspot Hacking from Wan?

OP greens1240

8th May 2014, 02:42 AM   |  #1  
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I have concerns related to the security of S4 as a hotspot. While using the device as a hotspot it
became extremely hot, and started to malfunction. I could see that no one other than myself was
connected to the hotspot. Other unusual activity was observed as well, and the carrier has taken
extreme & unusual steps to prevent me from discussing it with their employees.

When using an S4 with (selinux enforcing) as a hotspot, is there any risk that a malicious webserver operator
can somehow access the device using the carrier assigned (dynamic) ip address?


What type of protections (on the wan side) should be in place to properly secure an S4 with 4.3 for use as a hotspot
so the device itself can't be compromised? (assuming no 3rd party apps are installed) I assume device encryption would
not help this situation because the device has to be decrypted to run the hotspot. It's unclear samasung knox 1.0 could
provide anything useful, and I think they force packets through lookout so it slows the connection.
Last edited by greens1240; 8th May 2014 at 02:53 AM.
9th May 2014, 02:45 AM   |  #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greens1240

I have concerns related to the security of S4 as a hotspot. While using the device as a hotspot it
became extremely hot, and started to malfunction. I could see that no one other than myself was
connected to the hotspot. Other unusual activity was observed as well, and the carrier has taken
extreme & unusual steps to prevent me from discussing it with their employees.

When using an S4 with (selinux enforcing) as a hotspot, is there any risk that a malicious webserver operator
can somehow access the device using the carrier assigned (dynamic) ip address?


What type of protections (on the wan side) should be in place to properly secure an S4 with 4.3 for use as a hotspot
so the device itself can't be compromised? (assuming no 3rd party apps are installed) I assume device encryption would
not help this situation because the device has to be decrypted to run the hotspot. It's unclear samasung knox 1.0 could
provide anything useful, and I think they force packets through lookout so it slows the connection.




bump
11th May 2014, 05:26 PM   |  #3  
keen36's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greens1240

Other unusual activity was observed as well, and the carrier has taken
extreme & unusual steps to prevent me from discussing it with their employees.

would you elaborate on that?
11th May 2014, 07:02 PM   |  #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

would you elaborate on that?


Those are actually 2 separate issues even though the carrier's actions may seem unusual.

I don't see https in the url for this site, and when I try to force https it redirects to remove the ssl,
so privacy didn't matter here?

Some of the unusual activity involved messages about "sim data" refresh/change when no 3rd party
apps were ever installed, the phone wasn't rooted, and updates turned off. Apps that were turned off
showed subsequent network activity. After a factory reset, disabling some apps and changing other
settings, the main issue was the phone getting extremely hot when using the hotspot to test a vpn
service (vpn settings config on pc not on android).

If your phone number ends up on that "list" you should expect management to take an approach with you
as if litigation is underway. Expect very little cooperation, leave 15 messages over a 30 day
period with 5 different corporate managers to finally get a return call from yet a different manager who
finally admits they have ways to prevent your phone from getting through to support or customer service.
They must have thought none of their customers would figure out that advanced call rejection features
can do all kinds of things, such as put select callers on hold indefinitely, forward the call to a number that
rings but never answers, have the caller hear fast busy signals, have the caller hear a message that no
one is available to take their call, etc, etc. A word to anyone with a cell phone - If you can't get through
using 611 or the carrier's toll free numbers, try calling from a different phone, and if you get through
with the different phone, then you know.
Last edited by greens1240; 11th May 2014 at 07:07 PM.
11th May 2014, 08:07 PM   |  #5  
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xda admins probably thought that encryption is not overly important, this being a public forum and all... i would also prefer ssl everywhere, but it does add a layer of complexity and also increases demand on the server, so i can see why it is not implemented here.

what do you mean with
Code:
"sim data" refresh/change
? what do you mean when you say you have apps "turned off"?

i can easily see you getting blocked if you annoy any support-hotline too much. i do not see something especially suspicious about that.

if i may be honest: you appear to be a little paranoid.
12th May 2014, 02:11 AM   |  #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

xda admins probably thought that encryption is not overly important, this being a public forum and all... i would also prefer ssl everywhere, but it does add a layer of complexity and also increases demand on the server, so i can see why it is not implemented here.

what do you mean with

Code:
"sim data" refresh/change
? what do you mean when you say you have apps "turned off"?

i can easily see you getting blocked if you annoy any support-hotline too much. i do not see something especially suspicious about that.

if i may be honest: you appear to be a little paranoid.


As network packets travel over the Internet, anyone with physical access to a network device (within the packet route) can view your activity without your knowledge. There are redirection protocols used by thousands of businesses and ISPs to divert port 80 traffic to web caches, internet filtering appliances, and data mining "honeypots". Not sure if still true today that network router and Layer 3 switches manufactured by Cisco ship with a redirection protocol (WCCP) that can be used to re-reroute HTTP traffic through an external filtering or a logging device. Most would agree when it comes to discussions about network security- exchanging plain text email, and requesting advice on plain text message boards is not the best practice.

"refreshing sim data" was a message I observed after the s4 was rebooted. It seemed odd that the message appeared when there was no update or installations. But I'm not an expert on the device, for all I know it might be normal to see the message when there's no activity. As far as turning off apps, it's normal to turn off apps that use resources, drain battery, etc. if you don't need them. Turning off, not deleting, and changing permissions doesn't appear to be an option on 4.3 without a 3rd party app.

As far as sounding paranoid, there's a lot more to the story that I didn't go into involving what looks like attempted identity/phone theft by the carrier's own employee(s) or reseller(s). The way the situation was handled it genuinely looked like a cover up, and still does.

There is still the issue of securing a hotspot which no one from any tier 2 support centers has been able to answer. Not sure if a droidwall or other firewall would be doing anything beneficial since I assume any port scanning would be of the device connected to the hotspot rather than the s4 itself.
12th May 2014, 01:11 PM   |  #7  
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yes, anyone along the route can intercept the packets and even read them if they aren't encrypted. yes, there exist man-in-the-middle attacks. yes, most would agree that when exchanging security related information, it would be best to encrypt. that doesn't change what i said: this board is not security oriented, it is a public, developer oriented board. encryption is not very important here, so the admins must have thought that the benefits of not encrypting outwheigh the risk. if you really have sensitive security-related questions, this is not the right place to ask them, i fear.

what do you do exactly when you "turn off" an app? step-by-step?

have you tried googling what "refreshing sim data" does and why it is happening? it looks harmless to me!

last thing, to get this clear: you think that someone hacked your hotspot because the phone gets hot and unstable when you use it? no, wait, you have about a thousand small other things that also point to that explanation, right? this sounds like a case of unfounded paranoia to me. i have some experience with paranoid schizophrenics, and while i am not (!) calling you that, i have to advise you that the way you argue reminds me of them.

you are looking for suspicious things and you do not understand enough about these phones (they are ridiculously complex, so that is quite normal i might add) to see whether something is suspicious or not.
12th May 2014, 06:00 PM   |  #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

yes, anyone along the route can intercept the packets and even read them if they aren't encrypted. yes, there exist man-in-the-middle attacks. yes, most would agree that when exchanging security related information, it would be best to encrypt. that doesn't change what i said: this board is not security oriented, it is a public, developer oriented board. encryption is not very important here, so the admins must have thought that the benefits of not encrypting outwheigh the risk. if you really have sensitive security-related questions, this is not the right place to ask them, i fear.

Do you know a better place to ask advanced security related questions about Samsung/Android? Google and Samsung tech support are unable to answer many basic security questions. Anything advanced is a foreign language to them.Ask 1000 Samsung employees "What is Knox?" and 999 will answer "Never heard of it." Most don't care about security, and never will unless and until they become a victim, and have a substantial loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

what do you do exactly when you "turn off" an app? step-by-step?.

I used app manager. I'f you're familiar with S4 running 4.3 then you're familiar with app manager.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

have you tried googling what "refreshing sim data" does and why it is happening? it looks harmless to me!

This message may be related to updating network tower(s) info which I agree, by itself would be harmless.


Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

last thing, to get this clear: you think that someone hacked your hotspot because the phone gets hot and unstable when you use it? no, wait, you have about a thousand small other things that also point to that explanation, right? this sounds like a case of unfounded paranoia to me. i have some experience with paranoid schizophrenics, and while i am not (!) calling you that, i have to advise you that the way you argue reminds me of them.

There's constant network inbound/outbound activity while the device is idle according to the indicator. The activity could be perfectly benign. Many native apps communicate with the network, but it is also possible to turn off (restrict) background activity to limit which apps have network access. I wouldn't know what it is without running a program such as wireshark. A paranoid schizophrenic might think an app that had permission to access the microphone, recorded audio in the room, then encrypted & uploaded it to a server for later retrieval. That could never happen in the real world right?

I'm merely asking questions about various events which may or may not be signs that there's a problem, but I've not concluded anything. More importantly I'm hoping to find information on how to properly secure a hotspot. You've not offered any information about this so I assume you feel no hardening, modifications, or additions are necessary, and in using default settings the device is impenetrable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keen36

you are looking for suspicious things and you do not understand enough about these phones (they are ridiculously complex, so that is quite normal i might add) to see whether something is suspicious or not.

I agree, they are complex. Tech support is of no use, they simply are not trained to respond to a question such as "Is there a firewall running on the device?" "Is code checked for malware by human eyes before an app is put on playstore, or simply trust unknown authors and feedback?"
Last edited by greens1240; 12th May 2014 at 06:09 PM.
12th May 2014, 06:42 PM   |  #9  
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no, i am sorry, i do not know about any android security related web communities.

i use a sony phone on kitkat, so no, i have no idea what you mean with "app manager". i just want to know what that program did; did it uninstall the apps, did it disable them, did it freeze (rename) them? i have never heard of an app being "turned off", that's why i ask.

what you describe with the microphone listening and uploading what it records to the internet, that is happening every time you open google voice search or -if you use the google now launcher- everytime you go to the homescreen

i do not know how you got the idea that i think that your device is impenetrable (lol@that sentence btw. )? that is a ridiculous thought, i would never say such a thing. in fact, i am of the conviction that no absolute security can exist on a device which is connected to the internet. there is a reason why some security-related programs are built on machines with no internet access at all.

if you know how to use wireshark, why don't you just use it? if i had to take an uneducated guess, i would think that you would then realise that the network activity you see is benign (not malicious i mean, you might very well discover some nice datamining activity by google etc. ).

i do not know your usecase, if you are living in a country which has an oppressive regime, if you are a general target for hackers somehow (public figure / working at a security-related position etc.), then yes, it might make sense to look at your phones security in detail. if that is not the case, however, then no, i do not think that additional hardening of your hotspot is needed...

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