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“Hundreds of thousands of” GSM phones vulnerable to premium-rate hacks

If you thought it was Android phones that were the most vulnerable to security exploits, think again.

According to research published by Karsten Nohl of Security Research Labs, it’s virtually any phone that uses the GSM network. A vulnerability can allow hackers to access phones to call premium rate numbers and messaging services.

The GSM network is the most used network in the world with the majority of UK phones – regardless of platform – using it to make calls and send texts.

“We can do it to hundreds of thousands of phones in a short timeframe,” Nohl said to Reuters, but didn’t detail the specifics of how the hack would work, or what could be done to protect against it.

Nohl did mention that networks could help by improving security software on their end. “Mobile network is by far the weakest part of the mobile ecosystem, even when compared to a lot attacked Android or iOS devices.”

Referring to a survey carried out across multiple networks (none of them in the UK), Nohl added that “none of the networks protects users very well.” The survey took place across Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Slovakia, Switzerland and Thailand.

This isn’t the first time that Nohl has published similar findings; last year he told the BBC of how cheap pay-as-you-go handsets could be tweaked to eavesdrop on incoming calls and texts on another phone.

Source: Reuters, BBC

Image: Flickr user ~Brenda Starr~

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