USB 3G and 4G modems ‘pose security threat’

The vast majority of 3G and 4G USB modems handed out by mobile operators to their customers are manufactured by a handful of companies and run insecure software, according to two security researchers from Russia.

Researchers Nikita Tarakanov and Oleg Kupreev analyzed the security of 3G/4G USB modems obtained from Russian operators for the past several months. Their findings were presented Thursday at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam.

Most 3G/4G modems used in Russia, Europe, and probably elsewhere in the world, are made by Chinese hardware manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, and are branded with the mobile operators’ logos and trademarks, Tarakanov said. Because of this, even if the research was done primarily on Huawei modems from Russian operators, the results should be relevant in other parts of the world as well, he said.

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