Check Point Research unveils vulnerability within UNISOC baseband chipset

Issue 3 2022 News

UNISOC produces budget chipsets that power 2/3/4/5G devices ranging from smartphones to smart TVs. UNISOC is extremely popular in Africa and Asia due to its low-end prices. By the end of 2021, UNISOC was reported to be the fourth largest smartphone chip manufacturer globally (following MediaTek, Qualcomm and Apple), with an 11% global market share.

Despite the fact that UNISOC has been on the market for a long time, the UNISOC chip firmware, including the radio modem (AKA baseband), has not been studied extensively. There are no references for any UNISOC baseband vulnerabilities on the Internet to date, and this served as primary motivation for Check Point researchers.

The smartphone modem is a prime target for hackers as it can be potentially reached remotely through SMS or radio packets. Check Point Research discovered several vulnerabilities that can jeopardise the modems and other chip-related weaknesses that can put Android mobile users at risk.

Exploiting this vulnerability can be used to disrupt the device’s radio communication through a malformed packet. An attacker or even a military unit can use such a vulnerability to neutralise communications on the attacked devices.

Check Point Research reached out to the UNISOC teams in May 2022 and disclosed these findings. UNISOC acknowledged the findings and gave the vulnerability a 9.4 scoring (critical) and patched it. Google has said it will be publishing the patch in the upcoming Android security bulletin.




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