Hacker Roots Anti-NSA “Blackphone” In Just 5 minutes

Reportedly, at the BlackHat Security Conference held in Las Vegas this weekend, the highly-secure NSA-proof Blackphone got rooted within just five minutes flat.
The extremely hyped Blackphone has been aptly titled as the “world’s first ever smartphone offering full privacy and control directly in the user’s hands.”
This new smartphone is the outcome of a joint venture of the Spanish Smartphone manufacturer Geeksphone and the encrypted communications enterprise Silent circle. Blackphone boasts of a fully customized Android OS version called PrivatOS. This phone is already loaded with numerous privacy-ensuring applications. These pre-installed apps promise to offer the users high-end security.

A security researcher handling the twitter account @TeamAndIRC however, in just five minutes acquired root access on this phone without even unlocking its bootloader. Later, the hacker mocked the team behind Blackphone by stating that
 
“It is apparent no one ran CTS [compatibility test suite] on this device.”
The smartphone that claimed to be the most “secure” of all Android devices is actually a suite of security offering services running over the Android Open Source Project. BlackBerry has labeled it as “Consumer-Grade Privacy That’s Inadequate for Businesses.”
At the moment three hacks have been highlighted by the researcher on his Twitter account. These include:
  • USB mending/dev menu detached. Open through targeted intent.
  • Remotewipe app goes as system, and can be debugged. Attach debugger get free system shell.
  • System user to root, several available
One of these claims were then backtracked by the researcher since it was conducted on an unpatched Android version whereas the second attack asked for user interaction.
Dan Ford, the Chief Security Officer at Medium, states that this attack of debugging does not indicates a vulnerability of the smartphone but it is the part of Android itself.
In his blog post Ford clarified:
 
“We turned ADB off because it causes a software bug and potentially impacts the user experience, a patch is forthcoming. I would like to thank him for not blowing the issue out of proportion and going back to the twittersphere for a little more transparency by explaining that direct user interaction is required and that we had already patched one of the vulnerabilities through the OTA update.”
Debugging attack details haven’t been revealed yet to public but Ford has promised a patch at the earliest opportunity.
One of the reported vulnerabilities has been patched already and the other one is exploitable only with direct user content. Therefore, causing any harm to Blackphone users will not be possible so easily.
Nonetheless, it is satirical that once again the phone that claims to be the most secure Android device is declared susceptible to the innate trust model of the Android OS, that wasn’t developed for offering security in the first place.
Featured image via blog.kaspersky.
Credits: Hackread