HTC smartphones left vulnerable to Bluetooth attack

Handset maker "showed no interest" in fixing software driver, researcher says

If you have an HTC smartphone running Windows Mobile 6 or Windows Mobile 6.1, you may want to think twice before connecting to an untrusted device using Bluetooth. A vulnerability in an HTC driver installed on these phones can allow an attacker to access any file on the phone or upload malicious code using Bluetooth, a Spanish security researcher warned Tuesday.

"HTC devices running Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Mobile 6.1 are prone to a directory traversal vulnerability in the Bluetooth OBEX FTP Service," security researcher Alberto Moreno Tablado said in an e-mail exchange.

HTC handsets running Windows Mobile 5 are not affected.

For the attack to work, the targeted device must have Bluetooth enabled and file sharing over Bluetooth activated.

"This connection can be done either by standard Bluetooth pairing or taking advantage of the Bluetooth MAC spoofing attack," Moreno Tablado said, referring to a process where the attacking device attempts to convince the target that it's another device on its list of paired devices.

The directory traversal vulnerability allows an attacker to move from a phone's Bluetooth shared folder into other folders, giving them access to contact details, e-mails, pictures or other data stored on the phone. They can use this access to read files or upload software, including malicious code.

Users worried about the vulnerability should avoid pairing their phones with an untrusted handset or computer. They may also want to delete any devices that are already paired with their phones, he said.

Because the driver, obexfile.dll, is an HTC driver, only handsets from the company are affected. However, HTC is the world's largest manufacturer of Windows Mobile handsets, selling phones under its own brand as well as making phones under contract for other companies. That means millions of users are potentially vulnerable.

Moreno Tablado tested the vulnerability on a range of HTC handsets, including the Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Touch Cruise, Touch Find, S710 and S740, among others. "It seems that HTC includes this driver, which is vulnerable, in all the devices running Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Mobile 6.1, as a part of the Bluetooth stack," he said.

Moreno Tablado first reported the vulnerability to Microsoft in January, believing the problem was rooted in the Bluetooth stack used with Windows Mobile 6. At the time, Tablado did not disclose technical details of the vulnerability, believing it was a critical flaw that would put users at risk if it was disclosed.

Microsoft responded soon after the vulnerability was reported to them, saying they had determined the issue was caused by the HTC driver. But when Moreno Tablado reported the vulnerability to HTC in February, the handset maker "showed no interest," he said.

HTC and Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

"I am forced to go public with all the information because HTC showed no intention to release a security fix," Moreno Tablado said, providing a link to his blog, where he posted detailed information about the vulnerability.

"I guess that all forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 devices will be vulnerable too if HTC does not fix the driver," he said.

Tags htcsecuritybluetoothsmartphones

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sumner Lemon

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?