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Hackers Paying $32K for Obsolete Nokias

This week reports surfaced about criminals who were willing to pay over $30,000 for old, discontinued Nokia handsets that were apparently hackable. Today, Nokia denies any knowledge of a vulnerability in the 1100 handset that would allow it to intercept one-time passwords needed to complete an online banking transaction.

According to PCWorld, police contacted a security company called Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations looking for any ideas as to why this particular handset was be in such high demand. At the time, 1100s manufactured in a factory based in Bochum, Germany were going for roughly €5,000. Engelsman said (citing an informant) that phones produced in the Bochum factory run on Nokia software from 2002 that is apparently vulnerable to tampering.

On Monday, PCWorld reported, citing Frank Engelsman of Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations that about a week and a half ago, someone paid €25,000 (US$32,413) for one of the phones. Today PCWorld has more information as to why these phones are so valuable.


The report goes on to explain that online banking in some countries (e.g. Germany) allows customers to transfer money into other accounts using a code called an mTAN. This mobile Transaction Authentication Numbers is sent to the user’s phone and can then be entered into the online form. As a security feature, each code is unique and only applies to a single transaction. If fraudsters can fix a phone to receive text messages from another number, they can intercept these passcodes.

Nokia says it knows of no glitches in its software that would allow criminals to carry out any of the above. "We have not identified any phone software problem that would allow alleged use cases," the company said in an e-mailed statement.

I used one of these phones for a while (a washing machine incident had me between handsets) and paid around under a hundred quid for it. It made phone calls and sent text messages.* It’s hard to imagine it doing anything else.

Check out the full report for all the details. Does anyone have one of these phones at the moment? If so, mini question of the day: Are you willing to sell it to criminals for $30,000?

*It also had one of those nifty built-in flashlights and Snake II, but I don’t know is that really relevant. Just thought I’d put it out there in the interest of full disclosure.

  • Pei-chen
    Someone also paid $10,000+ for a used notebook on eBay and it doesn't mean a thing. It is just one scammer managed to beat another scammer to the notebook. (Ever wondered why scammer always won at auctions?)
    Reply
  • gamerjames
    “The 1100 can apparently be reprogrammed to use someone else's phone number, which would also let the device receive text messages. That capability opens up an opportunity for online banking fraud.”

    $30,000 dollars for an "opportunity" for online banking fraud is a dumb investment on the criminals part, IMO :p

    interesting anyway lol
    Reply
  • leo2kp
    If someone offered me $32,000 for a crappy phone, yea I'd sell it lol.
    Reply
  • gamerjames
    So would I, LOL.
    Reply
  • A Stoner
    I wonder if any of the 5,000,000,000 phones my wife has bought in the last few years is one of these.... $30,000, sweet!!!!
    Reply
  • average joe
    I have 3 of them if you want to buy them. I'll even pay for the shipping to Germany.
    Reply
  • unlicensedhitman
    You know what I could buy with $30,0000. A NEW CORE i7 EXTREME PC with GTX 295 in quad SLI and a 22" 2ms moniter!
    Reply
  • leo2kp
    I would pay off my car and school loans =D
    Reply
  • A Stoner
    UnlicensedHitmanYou know what I could buy with $30,0000. A NEW CORE i7 EXTREME PC with GTX 295 in quad SLI and a 22" 2ms moniter!You had me interested until you hit the 22" monitor. WTF is the point of all the horse power if you can only drive it at 22" and crappy resolutions?
    Reply
  • JMcEntegart
    I love how you guys jumped right over the whole "assisting organised crime" thing and headed straight for detailing what you'd spend the dirty cash on. Your class truly knows no bounds. :P
    Reply