One cryptography expert said that ‘serious flaws’ in the way Samsung phones encrypt sensitive material, as revealed by academics, are ’embarrassingly bad.’
Samsung shipped an estimated 100 million smartphones with botched encryption, including models ranging from the 2017 Galaxy S8 on up to last year’s Galaxy S21.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University found what they called “severe” cryptographic design flaws that could have let attackers siphon the devices’ hardware-based cryptographic keys: keys that unlock the treasure trove of security-critical data that’s found in smartphones.
What’s more, cyber attackers could even exploit Samsung’s cryptographic missteps – since addressed in multiple CVEs – to downgrade a device’s security protocols. That would set up a phone to be vulnerable to future attacks: a practice known as IV (initialization vector) reuse attacks. IV reuse attacks screw with the encryption randomization that ensures that even if multiple messages with identical plaintext are encrypted, the generated corresponding ciphertexts will each be distinct.
Untrustworthy Implementation of TrustZone
In a paper (PDF) entitled “Trust Dies in Darkness: Shedding Light on Samsung’s TrustZone Keymaster Design” – written by by Alon Shakevsky, Eyal Ronen and Avishai Wool – the academics explain that nowadays, smartphones control