Menu
Blackphone super-secure communications app had serious flaw

Blackphone super-secure communications app had serious flaw

A vulnerability in the bundled encrypted messaging app would have allowed attackers to execute malicious code on the device

The SilentText secure messaging application bundled with Blackphone had a serious vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to decrypt messages, read contact information, gather location data and even execute malicious code on the phone.

The bug, which was fixed before it was disclosed publicly Tuesday, shows that even devices built with security and privacy in mind can have serious flaws that compromise their defenses.

Blackphone is a high-end smartphone that runs a modified and locked-down version of Android called PrivatOS. It comes preloaded with apps for end-to-end encrypted text messaging, audio calling and video conferencing, as well as secure online storage.

The phone is manufactured by Switzerland-based SGP Technologies, a joint venture between Silent Circle, a provider of encrypted communications services and Spanish phone manufacturer GeeksPhone.

The vulnerability in SilentText, one of the apps bundled with Blackphone, was discovered by Mark Dowd, founder of Australian security consultancy firm Azimuth Security.

"While exploring my recently purchased BlackPhone, I discovered that the messaging application contains a serious memory corruption vulnerability that can be triggered remotely by an attacker," Dowd said in a blog post that contains the technical details of the bug. "If exploited successfully, this flaw could be used to gain remote arbitrary code execution on the target's handset."

The malicious code would execute in the context of the SilentText app and would inherit its privileges. This means the attacker could decrypt text messages, gather location information, read the phone's contacts and write to the external storage, Dowd said.

If the attacker also had knowledge of an Android privilege escalation exploit that affects PrivatOS, he could use it after exploiting the SilentText vulnerability to gain root or kernel access on the device. This would give him complete control over the phone.

The only knowledge an attacker would have needed to exploit the SilentText vulnerability was the target's Silent Circle ID or phone number.

"This issue is now patched by both Silent Circle and Blackphone in the respective App Stores / Product updates," Dowd said.

Blackphone users can update to the latest firmware version following the instructions on the product's support site.

This is not the first vulnerability discovered in Blackphone, but is likely one of the most serious ones found to date. Silent Circle and SGP Technologies run vulnerability reward programs for their respective products through the Bugcrowd platform. Statistics on the Bugcrowd site show that 25 issues have been found and rewarded so far in Blackphone and 37 in the Silent Circle apps and services.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacymobile securitypatchesExploits / vulnerabilitiesGeeksphoneAzimuth SecuritySGP TechnologiesSilentCircle

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments