SimJacker attack allows hacking any phone with just an SMS

Posted on Sep 14, 2019

SimJacker attack allows hacking any phone with just an SMS

Cybersecurity researchers at AdaptiveMobile Security disclosed a critical vulnerability in SIM cards dubbed SimJacker that could be exploited by remote attackers to compromise targeted mobile phones and spy on victims just by sending an SMS. The SimJacker vulnerability resides in the S@T (SIMalliance Toolbox) Browser dynamic SIM toolkit that is embedded in most SIM cards used by mobile operators in at least 30 countries.

The experts discovered that that the exploitation of the vulnerability is independent of the model of phone used by the victim. The scary part of the story is that a private surveillance firm was aware of the zero-day flaw since at least two years and is actively exploiting the SimJacker vulnerability to spy on mobile users in several countries. The S@T Browser application is installed on multiple SIM cards, including eSIM, as part of SIM Tool Kit (STK), it enables theSIM card to initiate actions which can be used for variousvalue-addedservices.

Since S@T Browser implements a series of STK instructions (i.e. send, call, launch browser, provide local data, run command, and send data) that can be executed by sending an SMS to the phone. The Simjacker attack involves an SMS containing commands that instruct the SIM Card in the phone to ‘take over’ the phone.