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Over The Air (OTA) settings involve the ability of a carrier to push new settings to a customer s mobile phone on their network Support for OTA settings varies widely from mobile phone to mobile phone and from manufacturer to manufacturer; however, mobile phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola typically contain at least some support for OTA settings, whereas other phones may not Like SMS itself, the term OTA settings is actually a catchall that can refer to a number of different items Everything from
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pushing new browser settings, to pushing firmware updates, to provisioning mobile phones for use on the carrier s network has been referred to as OTA settings Detailing all potential OTA settings attacks could easily fill an entire book; therefore, in this section we will focus on one common usage of OTA settings Once this example is understood, its principles can be applied to attacking any other form of OTA settings The attack we discuss here involves pushing new WAP browser settings to a target mobile phone The goal of this attack is to install new settings into the browser configuration of the target mobile phone If the attack is successful, the victim s browser will then route all traffic through a proxy that the attacker controls The attacker is then able to sniff the connection to obtain personal information about the victim, as well as to perform man-in-the-middle attacks against the victim s traffic Luckily for an attacker, constructing a message to perform an attack such as this is fairly straightforward This is due to the fact that WAP browser settings are typically represented in an easy-to-understand XML format For example, the following is the XML representation of a normal WAP browser settings message that a carrier could send to a customer s mobile phone:
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<CHARACTERISTIC-LIST> <CHARACTERISTIC TYPE="ADDRESS"> <PARM NAME="BEARER" VALUE="GSM/CSD"/> <PARM NAME="PROXY" VALUE="123123123123"/> <PARM NAME="CSD_DIALSTRING" VALUE="+4583572"/> <PARM NAME="PPP_AUTHTYPE" VALUE="PAP"/> <PARM NAME="PPP_AUTHNAME" VALUE="wapuser"/> <PARM NAME="PPP_AUTHSERCRET" VALUE="wappassword"/> </CHARACTERISTIC> </CHARACTERISTIC-LIST>
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In this message, the carrier has sent several settings to the customer s mobile phone These settings tell the mobile phone s browser to use the carrier s WAP proxy located at IP address 123123123123 and to log into this proxy using the username wapuser and password wappassword as well as to use PAP as the authentication type Once a message such as this has been constructed, it is sent from the carrier s network to the user, as shown in Figure 11-14
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Figure 11-14
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However, as with the attacks discussed previously, there is often nothing blocking an attacker from being able to construct their own message of this type and sending it through the carrier s network For example, consider the following attackerconstructed message:
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<CHARACTERISTIC-LIST> <CHARACTERISTIC TYPE="ADDRESS"> <PARM NAME="BEARER" VALUE="GSM/CSD"/> <PARM NAME="PROXY" VALUE="111111111111"/> </CHARACTERISTIC> </CHARACTERISTIC-LIST>
It should be noted that the attacker s message is even easier to construct than the legitimate carrier-generated message This is due to the fact that the attacker does not worry about having the victim authenticate to the attacker s proxy server The attacker doesn t want any problems with authentication to block the victim from sending their traffic through the attacker s proxy, so they leave the authentication options out of the settings The attacker then sends their hostile settings to the user through the carrier s network, as shown in Figure 11-15 A common assumption may be that this attack is not likely to be successful in the real world because a target of the attack would simply see a message from a friend s number or a number they didn t recognize displaying something along the lines of new settings being received However, often in practice the victim has almost no contextual information with which to make an informed decision about whether or not the incoming settings are legitimate or the source of these settings For example, consider the screen shown in Figure 11-16, which demonstrates the notification displayed to the user of a Sony Ericsson W810i mobile phone when it receives new hostile settings from an attacker
Figure 11-15
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