Malicious Chip Placed in Your Phone is Impossible to Detect

Researchers have Developed the First Battery-Free Cell Phone

If you’ve ever considered getting a third-party outlet to replace the smashed screen of your smartphone, you might reconsider after reading this. A study has revealed that those who turn to third-party outlets for this could be getting themselves exposed to possible hacks on their devices.

According to researchers at the University of Negev, replacement screen for Android-operated smartphones are manageable to manipulation for ultimately stealing personal information or taking control of the device that was supposed to be repaired.

Because the attack is almost undetectable, it can be used to severely compromise a victim’s smartphone, the researchers said.

The way the attack works is through a malicious chip that is in the replacement display. As the researchers have proven in their experiment, the application of the chip to the screen is relatively easy and then used to hack into the device.

For the demonstration of such attack, the researchers used a Huawei Nexus 6P smartphone, as well as an LG G Pad 7 tablet. By hijacking the devices, they managed to record what someone was typing on the phone and the tablet, including passwords, and download apps onto the devices without needing user’s permission, as well as send users to malicious websites.

The researchers also had the control of the device’s camera and could order it to take a photo of the user and forward the taken photo in an email to hackers. Just a little more work on their side and the researchers were able to use the manipulated screen to access the operating system of the affected devices.

As the researchers have said, this hack could also work on iPhones, but they did not demonstrate on the said device.

This form of attack is especially dangerous due to its ability to blend into the device as if the malicious chip was the official one. And because the attack is the one of physical nature, no anti-virus tool can detect it, either.

The researchers took the opportunity to warn smartphone manufacturers to make a physical defense system that will be able to prevent this type of hacks in the future.

For the longest time, the tech giant Apple has been criticized because of just how difficult it is to replace iPhone and iPad screens by third-party technicians. The situation has gone as far as the company getting sued by an Australian consumer earlier this year over claims it purposefully stopped devices working after cracked screens were replaced by third parties.

And yet now it seems as if Apple has always known something we haven’t.