Firefox OS likely to face HTML5, Boot-to-Gecko process attacks

Trend Micro predicts where hackers will look for weak points in the mobile OS

The Firefox OS, a new contender in mobile operating systems, will likely see HTML5-related attacks and assaults on a crucial operating system process, according to security vendor Trend Micro.

Some mobile phone operators are already shipping devices with the Firefox OS, which comes from Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox desktop browser.

Mozilla's Firefox OS seeks to challenge the dominance of Android and iOS, Google and Apple's operating systems. Firefox OS is geared toward high-performance, low-cost phones running applications using the HTML5 web programming language.

Firefox OS borrows much from the Firefox mobile browser and Gecko application framework, which is used to render Web pages and display applications. The platform underpinning Firefox OS, called Boot to Gecko (B2G), borrows 95 percent of its code from the mobile browser and Gecko, according to Mozilla.

The mobile OS uses a Linux kernel, which then boots into the Gecko runtime. The top layer of the technology stack, called Gaia, generates the interface seen by users.

Trend Micro pinpointed what the company believes are avenues for hackers to exploit. As more people use smartphones, attackers are increasingly looking for ways to exploit mobile devices.

Firefox OS is built around HTML5, the latest version of the open standard web programming language that is designed to be more interactive and multimedia friendly.

"Though the Firefox OS may not enjoy the market of the Android OS, the use of HTML5 is gradually gaining traction among users (Amazon also accepts HTML5 for its apps)," wrote Peter Pi, a threats analyst for Trend. "Thus, regardless of OS, we can expect that as more apps and sites will use HTML5, we can expect such attacks to increase in the future."

B2G contains a process within the OS that enforces permissions granted to applications and prevents unauthorized requests by those applications, Pi wrote.

Some applications can request more permissions, but those requests must be verified and signed by an application store, Pi wrote. The B2G process has high privileges and vets those requests. Mozilla has acknowledged B2G is a possible attack vector, he wrote.

"If this process is exploited, an attacker can obtain high-level privileges (like root access)," Pi wrote.

A vulnerability found last month, which was actually fixed in the course of repairing a different flaw in June, caused the B2G process to crash. Pi noted it could have allowed an attacker to run arbitrary code on a device with the same high privileges as the B2G process.

Send news tips and comments to Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityMobile OSesmobileExploits / vulnerabilitiesmozilla

More about Amazon Web ServicesAppleB2GGoogleLinuxMozillaTrend Micro Australia

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place