The second operating system hiding in every mobile phone

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 17
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BernardSwiss

Nov 14, 2013
12:37 AM EST
The second operating system hiding in every mobile phone

Quoting: http://www.osnews.com/story/27416/The_second_operating_syste...

... This operating system is stored in firmware, and runs on the baseband processor. As far as I know, this baseband RTOS is always entirely proprietary. For instance, the RTOS inside Qualcomm baseband processors (in this specific case, the MSM6280) is called AMSS, built upon their own proprietary REX kernel, and is made up of 69 concurrent tasks, handling everything from USB to GPS. It runs on an ARMv5 processor.

The problem here is clear: these baseband processors and the proprietary, closed software they run are poorly understood, as there's no proper peer review. This is actually kind of weird, considering just how important these little bits of software are to the functioning of a modern communication device. You may think these baseband RTOS' are safe and secure, but that's not exactly the case (link). You may have the most secure mobile operating system in the world, but you're still running a second operating system that is poorly understood, poorly documented, proprietary, and all you have to go on are Qualcomm's Infineon's, and others' blue eyes.

So, we have a complete operating system, running on an ARM processor, without any exploit mitigation (or only very little of it), which automatically trusts every instruction, piece of code, or data it receives from the base station you're connected to. What could possibly go wrong?

... (continued)
Bob_Robertson

Nov 14, 2013
8:54 AM EST
Cool. Cell phones have a subconscious. :^)
notbob

Nov 14, 2013
3:48 PM EST
Sounds more like an co-opted evil Kuato. Co-ato? ;)
gus3

Nov 14, 2013
6:05 PM EST
To shut it down, you say "klaatu barada nikto".
jdixon

Nov 14, 2013
9:44 PM EST
I guess if I ever get a smart phone, I'll have to call it Gort, gus3. :)
BernardSwiss

Nov 14, 2013
11:10 PM EST
Somehow, I'm reminded more of HAL...

"I'm sorry, Dave... I can't do that..."
CFWhitman

Nov 15, 2013
9:17 AM EST
"Klaatu Barada NNNNNNecktie. Nectar. Nickel. Noodle. It's an 'N' word, it's definitely an 'N' word!"
Bob_Robertson

Nov 15, 2013
11:29 AM EST
Claw, too, borrowed a nicked toe.
andrews51

Nov 15, 2013
4:16 PM EST
BIOS? This sort of thing has always been true for all general purpose computing platforms... I don't see the big [or new] threat. However, there are alternatives - the GNU Radio is one of them...

In all modern electronics there is a "trust" paradigm. And in all cases, that trust is vulnerable to exploitation. Even the chip manufacturer might have a security breach and end up with malware written directly to the hardware... so, if you use modern electronics, you are using an system that is open to many exploits - most non-obvious, and many not related to the end user OS...
BernardSwiss

Nov 15, 2013
6:31 PM EST
If you misspell (or mispronounce) that command

klaatu barada nikto
how sure are you that it won't still do something, rather than give out an error message or just fail silently?

.

(wait a minute -- could "klaatu" be the alien equivalent of "sudo"?)
CFWhitman

Nov 18, 2013
11:39 AM EST
Well, Klaatu was the alien's name (Gort was the robot), so if it's the alien equivalent of "sudo" then it seems like it would have to be a title, perhaps like addressing him as "Root." Perhaps that would also be the equivalent of "Captain" on one of the alien ships.
Bob_Robertson

Nov 18, 2013
12:46 PM EST
"God, root, what is difference?"

http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=19981111
tmx

Nov 18, 2013
6:29 PM EST
I have no idea what anyone is talking about.
gus3

Nov 18, 2013
7:23 PM EST
Don't feel bad. Neither do I.
jdixon

Nov 18, 2013
11:45 PM EST
> I have no idea what anyone is talking about.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043456/

It's worth watching, even today. I don't think anyone can say the same for the 2008 remake.
CFWhitman

Nov 19, 2013
8:48 AM EST
The phrase also took on a life of its own as fans paid homage to it in various other films, television shows, and books. I made a reference to the film Army of Darkness earlier in the thread.
skelband

Nov 20, 2013
1:38 PM EST
And also the Matrix.
notbob

Nov 21, 2013
5:11 AM EST
I always preferred "meega, nala kweesta", the phrase Stitch utters to purposely shock the court, which is apparently so offensive, half the bench faints and one robot even pukes up nuts/bolts/gears. Hilarious. ;)

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