"SMS of Death" Could Wreak Havoc on GSM Networks

Wired's Threat Level blog recently reported on a demonstration by German researchers of vulnerabilities in common GSM phones that, when exploited--using what the researchers refer to as the "SMS of Death," a maliciously coded text message--could not only shut a phone out of its network, rendering it unusable, but if launched on a large scale could potentially shut down entire networks.

As reported on Wired.com,

In the worst cases, including the Nokia and Sony Ericsson, the message would disconnect the phone and force it to reboot, without registering the fact of the message’s receipt....

[T]hese simple attacks could cause serious problems...if launched on a large scale....

This kind of large-scale attack potential raises the possibility that a telco itself could be held hostage by an outsider threatening to flood its customers with reboots or even broken phones....