Protocol of Telephony which is newer to Diameter Just As Vulnerable As SS7

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Protocol of Telephony which is newer to Diameter Just As Vulnerable As SS7

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Protocol of Telephony which is newer to Diameter Just As Vulnerable As SS7

Protocol is the special set of rules that end points in a telecommunication connection use when they communicate. Protocols specify interactions between the communicating entities.

Security researchers say the Diameter protocol used with today’s 4G (LTE) telephony and data transfer standard is vulnerable to the same types of vulnerabilities as the older SS7 standard used with older telephony standards such as 3G, 2G, and earlier.

Both Diameter and SS7 (Signaling System No. 7) have the same role in a telephony network. Their purpose is to serve as an authentication and authorization system inside a network and between different telephony networks (providers).

The difference between these two is that while SS7 did not use any type of encryption for its authentication procedures, leading to the easy forgery of authentication and authorization messages, Diameter supports TLS/DTLS (for TCP or SCTP, respectively) or IPsec.




4G operators often misconfigure Diameter

According to research published last month by Positive Technologies detailing Diameter’s use among mobile networks across the globe, the protocol’s features are rarely used.

The incorrect use of Diameter leads to the presence of several vulnerabilities in 4G networks that resemble the ones found in older networks that use SS7.

Researchers say that the Diameter misconfigurations they’ve spotted inside 4G networks are in many cases unique per each network but they usually repeat themselves to have them organized in five classes of attacks: (1) subscriber information disclosure, (2) network information disclosure, (3) subscriber traffic interception, (4) fraud, and (5) denial of service.


4G operators


Subscriber and network information disclosure

Subscriber and network information disclosure, allow an attacker to gather operational information about the user’s device, subscriber profile, and information about the mobile network in general.

Such vulnerabilities can reveal the user’s IMSI identifier, device addresses, network configuration, or even his geographical location —helping an attacker track users of interest as they move about.





Subscriber traffic interception

The third vulnerability, subscriber traffic interception, is only theoretically possible because both SMS and call transmission often establish channels with previous-generation protocols that do not use the Diameter protocol for authentication.

Nevertheless, Positive Technologies researchers warn that if the attacker is set on SMS and call interception, he can at any time downgrade a Diameter-capable 4G connection to a previous-generation connection and use flaws in SS7 and other protocols to carry out his attack.





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