During the last few years the Israeli security company Cellebrite has become famous for its data extraction tool. Taking advantage of vulnerabilities in smartphones, they manage to extract contacts, messages, locations and more information even if they are blocked. Now Signal is going for them, they say that they know the vulnerabilities of the tool and that they will actively fight to interfere in its operation.
The founder of Signal, the encrypted instant messaging app, has published an extensive article detailing how they got hold of a Cellebrite team and how they will try to interfere with his functioning now that they know him. Cellebrite recently warned that they could access Signal messages as well, something that has sparked a small internal battle between the two companies.
In an ironic way, Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike indicates that he was walking down the street and suddenly one of the Cellebrite teams fell off a truck. We don’t know how they really got hold of this team, although they did make good use of it. Moxie Marlinspike detailed a number of vulnerabilities that have been found on the device and that now allows them to counterattack Cellebrite and their use of the tool.
During years Cellebrite has sold the tool exclusively to authorities and other entities so that they decrypt the content of totally blocked devices. It was used for example by the FBI and Signal says also by “authoritarian regimes in Belarus, Russia, Venezuela and China; death squads in Bangladesh; military junta in Myanmar; and those who seek to abuse and oppress in Turkey, United Arab Emirates “.
Through reverse engineering the team of Signal has managed to find the security vulnerabilities in the tool. Cellebrite is apparently good at finding vulnerabilities in smartphones, but not so good at covering its own. Signal says it is going to take care of them.
How? Creating own files to place on smartphones and with which to fight Cellebrite. They say they can create files that are on the smartphone and once Cellebrite tries to extract information, the Cellebrite device will be infected. With this they will modify the data that Cellebrite extracts so that they are not the true ones, they also say that they can do that with Cellebrite reports already obtained previously.
Says Moxie Marlinspike that “any application could contain such a file, and until Cellebrite is able to accurately repair all vulnerabilities in its software with extremely high confidence, the only remedy a Cellebrite user has is not to scan devices. “.
Signal says they are happy to post and tell Cellebrite your vulnerabilities. As long as, of course, Cellebrite also post and comment on the vulnerabilities they use to access blocked mobiles.
Via | Signal