SMS flaw discovered in Windows Phone 7.5

By Lee Kaelin on December 13, 2011, 8:39 AM

Microsoft's mobile platform is coming under increased scrutiny after it was revealed that smartphones running Windows Phone 7.5 are at risk of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that can disable their messaging functions.

Khaled Salemeh, who has been commenting about it on his Twitter account, discovered the flaw. He enlisted the help of WinRumors on Monday and both parties are in the process of disclosing the issue to Microsoft directly. According to WinRumors, the vulnerability works by sending a specially crafted SMS to a Windows Phone device, causing the handset to reboot with the messaging hub functionality disabled.

The site tested it on several different handset models including HTC's Titan and Samsung's Focus Flash. They also noted that the devices used both WP7.5 version 7740 and the Mango RTM build 7720.

"The attack is not device specific and appears to be an issue with the way the Windows Phone messaging hub handles messages," says the report. WinRumors also found that the bug could be triggered if a user sent a Facebook chat message or Windows Live Messenger message to someone in their contacts list.

The site found that this flaw affects other aspects of the Windows Phone operating system too. In particular, if a user has pinned a friend as a live tile on their device and that friend posts a particular message on Facebook, then the live tile will update and cause the device to lock up. One way to work around this is quickly removing the live tile as soon as the handset loads to the home screen.

WinRumors believes the issue relates to the way the mobile OS handles messages, and doesn't represent a security threat. There is no workaround to mitigate it though and for those experiencing a problem the only way of restoring messaging functions is to perform a hard reset of the handset.

User Comments: 7

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Guest said:

sounds like a sanitizing input issue.

Det Det said:

More flaws are found as the OS generalises. Android and Iphone (not iOS) have had their own messaging/connectivity problems in the past too.

I'm an Android fan but taunting every other OS for every single minor flaw they have is ridiculous. Use whatever you like and I'm happy with that - just stay out of my face.

Guest said:

Windows phones are born for problems once you kill 1 problem 2-3 more pop up its a good thing the OS owns 5.8% of the phone market share ;) goes to show how crap it is xD

Guest said:

I am surprised it has a 5.8% market share. Maybe those are just the ones ordered by stores and not actually sold. It would be hard to believe there are that many people that would buy one.

Guest said:

^^^ Yes, because it's sooo terrible, surely nobody has it? Come on man, how about you give it a try, or read some reviews out there on it which describe just how "terrible" it really is before you bash it. There are very few "problems", and the one in this article has affected NOBODY so far and has now been reported to MS.

Market share does not indicate anything about how good or bad a product is. Both iOS and Android had a market share of 5.8% at one point too.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Windows phones are born for problems once you kill 1 problem 2-3 more pop up its a good thing the OS owns 5.8% of the phone market share goes to show how crap it is xD

By the way Guest, I've extensively used Desire S, Galaxy ACE (amongst many other droids) and own a Galaxy S, my experience tells me Android isn't as good as it touted to be. For example, Desire S and ACE suffers from usual sluggishness of Android for no apparent reason. Galaxy S has been the worst offender, lock-ups, reboots at its own, sluggishness .......... IMO nothing is perfect, so pointing out one OS in this respect is stupid thing to do. Every OS i.e. iOS/Android/WinMO/WP7x has their own set of flaws at one time or another. Hell even E7 which I have been playing around for last few days 'feels' responsive and stable smartphone than the above mentioned models.

Dj23 said:

Ah ignorance is bliss. I had an iPhone, my partner, mother, and sister have an Android each, and I'm now on the HTC HD7. Had it over a year and I still cherish it. People have their opinions, but don't be so arrogant. In my opinion, the market share is going to increase. I have never had a problem with my WP7, my iPhone had countless issues, my girlfriend's Android is packing in (it's younger than mine), and my dad's Blackberry went within 6 months. Be thankful they are finding problems, because it means people are using it.

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