Security researcher Bogdan Alecu recently discovered that newer Nexus smartphones like the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 and the just-released Nexus 5 are all susceptible to an SMS attack that can lock the handset up, reboot it or make it lose connection to the carrier network.
The attack reportedly works by sending a Nexus phone around 30 flash SMS messages. Flash messages are described as those that are immediately displayed on the screen and require immediate action. In the event the messages aren’t properly dismissed, the phone can lose its data connection, freeze or even reboot.
Part of the problem is that Nexus phones don’t alert users with an audio tone when a flash SMS is received. This allows an attacker to send the necessary number of messages in succession without the victim being aware of the incoming messages.
Alecu, who reported the flaw to Google, noted the vulnerability is present on the aforementioned Nexus devices running any version of Ice Cream Sandwich through Kit Kat. He reportedly tried the attack on 20 other devices with no luck and was told a fix was coming in Android 4.3 although it still hasn’t been patched.
Attackers are able to send flash SMS via a number of Android apps. What’s more, we are told that various phone services are now offering it as an option although prior to this report, I’d never heard of flash SMS. What about you?