NFC technology is poised to become the core of the mobile payment world. Nearly every cutting edge smartphone released in the next year will feature some form of NFC and mobile payments. Every major player from Verizon to Google, from MasterCard to American Express is in some way attempting to enter the market and gain a foothold in the thriving industry. Yet this is not without cost: Near-Field Communication technology is new and relatively untested. By linking it with our smartphones, a device we use for nearly every aspect of our lives, we’ve created the most potent bait an identify thief or malicious life hacker could desire.
Yet until recently, few cared to think about the malicious possibilities that NFC posed to the user. Just over a week ago at Mobile Pwn2Own, this changed when MWR Labs demonstrated that NFC users (and vendors) have a whole lot more to think about. While the exact details of the exploit are still withheld, using the Samsung Galaxy S3′s NFC chip, a file is downloaded and automatically opened. Next, the file was able to elevate its privileges and thereby gain control over every aspect of the device. As explained on the team’s blog:
The first vulnerability was a memory corruption that allowed us to gain limited control over the phone. We triggered this vulnerability 185 times in our exploit code in order to overcome some of the limitations placed on us by the vulnerability.
We used the second vulnerability to escalate our privileges on the device and undermine the application sandbox model. We used this to install a customised version of Mercury, our Android assessment framework. We could then use Mercury’s capabilities to exfiltrate user data from the device to a remote listener, including dumping SMS and contact databases, or initiating a call to a premium rate number.
While this type of attack may seem complicated and far fetched, the reality is that criminals will go to great lengths to formulate a method by which to steal your information and money. The more reliant on mobile technology we become, the more vigilant we must be in safeguarding our information. Having NFC enabled 24/7 is like having your credit card, phone number, address, name, and Social Security Number dangling from your belt loop. So while the exploit will undoubtedly be patched quickly, just remember: You never know who may be watching.
Welcome to Field Report, I’m Jase Glenn and I’ll be guiding you through this weeks latest innovations by some of the most creative developers in our community. Most of the articles we write about on the Portal have to do with a finished product. Field Report is a step in a different direction, where we discuss the latest innovations as they’re happening, and the thoughts of the developers behind them.
First up is a hardware hack for the venerable Transformer Prime by XDA Member Erusman. As most of us are aware by now, the Transformer Prime has been plagued by non-functional WiFi and GPS since launch, which in fact led to ASUS recalling many of the launch day Primes. Frustrated by these difficulties, Erusman decided to take the initiative, and in true XDA form not only took apart his Prime, but in the process fixed his tablet’s WiFi, GPS, and light bleed. When I asked him about how the idea came about and what his future plans were Erusman said:
“Well, my whole mod started out of fustration with Asus and the prime. I think alot of people were let down when they found out the “Prime” wasn’t exactly as they hoped for. Out of the box my primes GPS didn’t work. It suffered lightbleed and WIFI was very week. I like others was hoping ICS update would fix the issues. It didn’t. By that time I was out of my return window, and I was hearing horror stories from those that were RMA’ing theirs. After all this led to the first opening of the prime on XDA and mods.
I had no idea this thread would go this far. The cool thing is that it led to many people opening their primes and fixing the problems themselves. I just updated the thread with the latest. The antenna I made was my final mod. My future plans are to eventually mod it with some permenant antenna. Fixed to the back using SMA female connectors. Use it for GPS (now that it works) in a vehicle for my courier business. But for now I am just enjoying the Prime at home (fastest android tablet) for movies, bedside surfing and games.”
The great thing is Erusman actually made a play-by-play with pictures in his thread here so that anyone experiencing these issues can take a crack at it. That being said our next innovator took a software approach to solving a problem.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the latest of the Tab lineup. Due to the newness of the tablet, XDA Senior Member eaglerazor123 decided to show the users of the Tab 7.7 some love by creating the first custom ROM for it; without even owning one.
When I asked him about the difficulties he faced and what the future held, he said,
“Difficulties?! Umm..you know making a rom without that Device isn’t simple! My build is ready now! But it seems to be bootlooping! A minor bug! I’m waiting for the logs from Testers! And for [sic] Future Features, I may dig ICS for it.”
So Tab 7.7 users interested in testing this out head on over to the thread here and let him know you care. This leads us to our last (but certainly not least) story: HaRET for WP7.
HaRET for Windows Phone 7
Most of us remember HaRET from the final days of Windows Mobile, but for those of you who don’t, allow me to explain. HaRET (Handhelds Reverse Engineering Tool) is a program designed to allow Windows Mobile smartphones to boot the Linux kernel. HaRET was instrumental in allowing users of devices like the HTC HD2 to load Android and set off a wave of additional development. After WinMo’s demise at the hands of Microsoft, HaRET is back; this time for Windows Phone 7.
Spearheaded by XDA Recognized Developer dcordes, this latest version of HaRET is back, but not without difficulty. According to an update I received from dcordes:
HaRET needs to posess special rights (“kernel mode”) in order to access certain memory regions. This is required in order to load the Linux kernel into memory, flush memory to get rid of unneeded stuff and start Linux.
* HaRET uses a method to go to kernel mode “SetKmode” that was dropped in WP7
* On proposition of (minDark) I patched HaRET to get rid of it. Now HaRET no longer crashes but obviously lost it’s ability to boot a kernel (lol).
* Although it runs and does things that require no GUI, we don’t see anything now, also due to WP7 specific changes. Recomendations have been made how to fix this (ultrashot)
* (minDark) proposed HtcRoot project (GoodDayToDie) as a solution to the disability to obtain kernel rights. GoodDayToDie now showed interest in using his HtcRoot project in order to help us with this.
* This project is not device specific. Aim is to run HaRET and boot Linux on any WP7 device and the patched HaRET was already tested on leo and mozart.
With HD2 we have a special case: We have a known working Linux kernel for it and it runs WP7. Since the aim is to boot Linux from WP7 using HaRET, WP7 flashed HD2 is the perfect test setup.
Progress is moving rapidly, and headway being made, so if you feel you can contribute head on over to the thread here.
So there you have it folks, the Transformer Prime gets chopped, the Tab 7.7 gets its ROM cherry popped, and HaRET is back with a vengeance. Stay tuned for next weeks version. Jase out.
February 12, 2012 By: Former Writer
Some older devices, and even some current low to mid range devices can have a problem with internal storage. Between all the great Android apps out there, music, videos, pictures and other miscellany, sometimes storage can be problem when you didn’t have much to begin with.
The aim of the modification is to increase the internal memory of the Galaxy Mini so users can put more things on it. The process is pretty simple and involves flashing a few files over Odin. There are a few prerequisites as well. They include:
Stock Firmware installed on the Phone (custom ROMS not supported …They don’t need to!)
A microSD with two primary formatted partitions inside (the former ‘to FAT32′ and the latter ‘to EXT4′ filesystems)
Ready to Flash to your Galaxy Next via Odin
From there, it’s just downloading a few files and following the method and you’re on your way to more data on your Galaxy Mini.
For further instructions, the download links and screen shots; you can find all that and more in the original thread. Remember, as always, to make a backup before flashing anything. It’s just a smart move.