LTE (4G) Communication Standard Can Be Hacked, Researchers Prove

A research that was just published reveals how attacks against the mobile communication standard LTE can occur. LTE can be compromised in three attacks where an attacker collects meta- information about the user’s traffic, among other things. More specifically, the researchers identified three attack vectors where the confidentiality and privacy of LTE communication is at stake.

What is LTE? LTE is commonly marketed as 4G LTE & Advance 4G, but it does not meet the technical criteria of a 4G wireless service, according to the 3GPP Release 8 and 9 document series for LTE Advanced.

Who are the researchers who made that discovery? The research team consists of three researchers from the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany, and a researcher from New York University.

Three Types of Attacks Endangering LTE Revealed

The team first presented а passive identity mapping attack that matches volatile radio identities to longer lasting network identities. This enabled them to identify users within a cell and also helped them in the follow-up attacks, the report reveals.

The second type of attack shows how a passive attacker can abuse the resource allocation as a side channel to carry out website fingerprinting through which the attacker becomes aware of the websites the user has visited.

The third attack revealed in the report is called the aLTEr attack which leverages the information that LTE user data is encrypted in counter mode known as AES-CTR without being integrity protected. This allowed the researchers to modify the message payload.

In a nutshell, the passive attacks enable attackers to collect meta-information about user’s traffic – known as identity mapping attack. The second type of attack reveals the websites visited by the user – known as website fingerprinting. The third type of attack allows attackers to modify messages – which they called aLTEr.

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from How to, Technology and PC Security Forum authored by Milena Dimitrova. Read the original post at: