Near Field Communication Can Infect Android Remotely

Android and Nokia N9's MeeGo operating system can be exploited by using near field communication (NFC), that too without any user interaction.

Near field communication (NFC), a new radio communication technology, which connects similar smartphones when they are touched or brought close to each other, is already in use in several high end smartphones. However, it can be a potential threat to Android and Nokia phones.

Charlie Miller, a security specialist at the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas used NFC to transfer malicious code to different smartphones without interacting with the smartphone owner. 

Miler studied the process of infecting via NFC for about nine months and focused on applications that use the radio interface like Google's Beam. Miler explained that, “if a victim's smartphone is placed in the vicinity of a tag that has been tampered with, the phone's browser will be launched and will access a web site – in this case one that contains malware exploits for Android,” according to The H Online report. A tag is an unpowered NFC chip.

The demonstration also revealed that majority of the Android devices are outdated and are easily vulnerable to this bug, which can infect devices without any user interactions using NFC technology.

Also, Nokia N9's MeeGo operating system got infected as it is programmed to arbitrarily accept NFC communication. Miller stated in The H Online report: "The file rendering applications contain numerous bugs that can cause buffer overflows and enable attackers to take control of a device."

An attacker can also activate the N9's Bluetooth interface via NFC and then pair the device with a notebook, after which it can be used to send premium-rate SMS text messages or call premium numbers, or can even be used to export address book, and access the N9's filesystem. 

With the ever expanding horizons of technology, data security remains a prime concern that needs to be addressed before deploying a large scale technological solution. 


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