Nokia Shutters Developer Forums After Server Hack


Nokia has shut down its developer site after discovering a security breach in which attackers obtained private data

Nokia has suspended its developer forum after a recent attack compromised member data.

Users registered with the Nokia developer forum had their personal information, including email addresses, compromised, the Finnish phone giant said in a note posted on 29 August on the company website. Other information, such as birth dates, home page URLs and instant messaging user names for AIM, ICQ, MSN, Skype and Yahoo, was also compromised for “fewer than 7 percent” of the victims. Passwords and credit card numbers do not appear to have been compromised.


The forum at would be offline until “further investigations and security assessments were complete”, the statement said. No timeline was provided, but Nokia promised to post updates as often as possible.

Taking down the site while the investigation is underway is a “sensible move”, Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote on the Naked Security blog.

“Security flaws” in the forum’s software used for the website allowed attackers to use SQL injection to access a database table containing member records, Nokia said. The breach was discovered while Nokia was investigating an incident on 22 August when users accessing the forums website were redirected to another site. The site displayed an image of Homer Simpson saying, “D’oh!” The page also changed browser window sizes and positions, making it difficult for affected users to close the site.

Nokia immediately removed the modified content to stop the redirect and said it was reviewing security practices for its externally maintained websites. The company had originally thought the attacker had just put in the redirect.

In a SQL injection, attackers enter database query statements into several input fields on the website, such as in the comments field or log-in boxes. If the page were not coded properly, it wouldn’t strip out the database commands when the page was submitted. Instead the commands would be sent to the database to be executed, and the results returned to the website.

The attacker, “pr0tect0r AKA mrNRG”, believed to be based in India, accused Nokia of falling down on security. “Worlds number 1 mobile company but not spending a dime for server security!” the attacker wrote on the redirected site.

Basic techniques

Attackers are successfully breaching major companies using fairly basic techniques such as SQL injection. In this case, the flaw existed in the software Nokia used, which means other sites using the same software are likely to be vulnerable to the attack. Sony suffered a series of debilitating attacks this spring as attackers harvested user records using SQL injection attacks.

It is unknown how many members had their information compromised, but Nokia said the number was “significantly larger” than first thought. The phone giant is reaching out to affected members directly via email and said the users would most likely see higher volumes of unsolicited mail, such as spam and phishing attacks.

While the Nokia attacker referenced the AntiSec movement, where attackers break into websites to dump sensitive information, there is no way to tell if the breach was part of AntiSec or a lone incident. The decentralised nature of the movement makes it difficult to link incidents together or identify any group behind the attacks.

The security breach is embarrassing for Nokia. While the company remains the world’s largest maker of mobile phone handsets, it has been dramatically losing market share to smartphones running Google’s Android mobile operating system and Apple’s iPhone. Nokia recently signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft to introduce a new line of Windows Phone 7-powered phones for either later this year or early 2012.

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