Thinking about security to some hidden functionality that you want to perform on your devices when its on remote location and switched off, can we really control or power it on?
Years back we had to have Nokia classic Mobile and one great thing always amazed me was, no matter you switch the device off or it automatically turn off due to lack of battery, but it always wake me up in morning, Yes Your alarm can still work even its switched off or in no power mode.
Now its smartphone era and things got quite advanced and too much beyond this.
What Happens when device is in Switched off mode?
Actually, most of your device is having continuous battery power supply all the time, for years. Iif We talk about smartphone. Tablets and laptop, it seems obvious that they have battery so, battery must be supplying power.
Switch off a device at certain charged battery percentage for 2 3 days and once you switch back it on, it won’t be showing you same battery percentage, but less by 1-2% at least. Whats going on?
And what about physically power connected device like your desktop? Yes even they are always awake, Almost always.
All these Device has two universe, one we use, so called OS part where we interact and do our daily work.
Another is, Hardware firmware, Where there is lots of programme and process goes on all the time, and when we boot-up our devices or shut it down. That hardware devices, embedded with come firmware always working.
Just think for moment, how your devices knows current time when it wakes up? Its all stored and running continously in your hardware. It keeps using power and keeps running, Be a Computer or mobile devices, Most of the time, even when there battery or power is not connected, all of these devices are supplied with internal battery for supplying power when there is no external power.
In computer devices, We might have saw that called CMOS battery.
According to a Korean researcher SeungJin Lee & Seungjoo Kim have demonstrated this on Samsung smart TVs at black hat [ HACKING, SURVEILLING, AND DECEIVING VICTIMS ON SMART TV ] this year, they mention that some malware was originally designed for smartphone actually.
And we know, turning on a device is never an issue when its never was in fully switched off mode.
How remotely turning back on could work?
Firmware is capable or running many programs written on their low level languages. Injecting a malware to firmware that keeps listening some port of network where we can trigger them to turn device on, is the way we can think of.
Lots of hidden background processes like monitoring system time/date, any software event/instructions which might trigger wakeup event to the device just like alarm or now automatic powering on options that are in many smartphone these days for example, are always in listening mode when device is off.
Putting phone on Aeroplane mode which turn off all the network access and radio, and putting it in power down mode might seems a solution for remote wakeup hack but wait a minute. NO, Internally running Malware can wake up these radios and turn aeroplane mode off to resume all network services.
What required for implementing this?
2 Word, Physical Access to your device at first is needed. These malware can be inserted only when your device is rooted, be it a smartphone or Smart TV, upon rooting these can be injecting into firmware and according to the design of malware, your device will be controlled.So Physical security is must and best.
Are we safe?
That's why everyone says rooting is dangerous to your device, and if your device is rooted, random apps/background malware can be installed through some misunderstood links on your device, which can not only access your firmware but also can be used to spy on you using your camera and microphone.
Points for your device safety
- Put your device physically safe from wrong hands.
- Keep your phone and their apps including OS updated, this reduce lots of risk of being your device open for hackers.
- Until you are expert and going to experiment on your device, do not root your phone.
- Keep your phone clean and do not install crappy apps that do nothing but stealing your informations.
And what next?
This was trial for smartTV and since technology are evolving rapidly, we might seems more advance cracking techniques developed by these smart people.
What's your views on it, what else can be secured beside smartphone, remember, we have smart homes these days too. Almost everything is hackable, so security is bigger concern.