A study carried out by security experts from Horst Görtz Institute at Ruhr-Universität Bochum showed that the attackers are nowadays able to identify which web pages a user visits and to reroute him to a scam website by abusing the security weaknesses in the LTE mobile telephony standard they are using. All devices that use LTE and are also referred to as 4G, are affected – i.e. almost all mobile phones and tablets, as well as certain household devices connected to the same network. The weaknesses are also still present in the upcoming mobile telephony standard 5G and are impossible to close; and the standardization of which is currently pending. Still, the problem may be stemmed from the aid of other security mechanisms in browsers or apps.
Rerouting users to wrong websites
Although the payload transmitted via LTE is encrypted, its integrity is not verified. David Rupprecht explained that an attacker can alter the encrypted data stream and reroute the messages to his own server without alerting the user. The attacker has to be in the vicinity of the mobile phone he targets in order to steal the data. He intercepts the communication between the phone and the base station using special equipment and reroutes the user to a fake website by altering the messages. On that website, he can even monitor the passwords as they are entered or any other action he chooses.