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Case Studies

Phone flaws shown

At this year’s Mobile Pwn2Own event, during the Applied Security Conference (PacSec) in Tokyo, the research arm of the consultancy MWR InfoSecurity – MWR Labs, won two categories by demonstrating security flaws in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Amazon Fire Phone. Researchers from MWR Labs in the UK exploited the Samsung Galaxy S5, enabling them to steal personal details, while another team from MWR Labs in South Africa exposed a remote code execution on the Amazon Fire Phone.

The Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), host of the annual event, announced MWR Labs researchers from the UK Robert Miller and Jonathan Butler as winners in the Short Distance Category after they were able to demonstrate exploitation against the Samsung Galaxy S5 over Near Field Communication (NFC). They retrieved personal information from the device, securing the win and $75,000.

Bernard Wagner and Kyle Riley from South Africa won the Mobile Application/OS category, demonstrating remote code execution on the Amazon Fire Phone through a Man-in-the-Middle attack. The researchers, based out of MWR’s South African office, have indicated that the exploit was possible due to a set of vulnerabilities within a pre-installed package on the device. The prize for this category was $50,000.

“MWR is proud to receive these awards,” said Ian Shaw, Group MD of MWR InfoSecurity. “Our researchers from across the globe work extremely hard; and entering competitions, such as Pwn2Own, are vitally important as it keeps us at the sharp edge of the industry. This work forms part of a wide-ranging programme of security research at MWR on a global scale and highlights the ongoing need for mobile developers and manufacturers to prioritise security, in order to keep customers safe.”

The MWR Labs research also identified additional vulnerabilities, which will first be reported to Samsung and Amazon in the coming weeks. It intends to publish advisories in due course for these vulnerabilities on its website (


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