How to Train your Snapdragon: Exploring Power Frameworks on Android

Presented at ShmooCon X (2014), Jan. 18, 2014, 4 p.m. (60 minutes)

Have you ever wondered how power is routed around your phone, how it is stored and if it could be made dangerous? I have, and I somehow talked the DARPA Cyber Fast Track group into funding my research into the subject and allowing me to name it: "Project Burner: El Telefono Inteligente de Fuego." The overall goal of the project was: "Can I catch a phone on fire using nothing but the stored energy in the battery?" and / or "Can I break it beyond repair?". The answer was a resounding "yes."

This talk will center around how the Android (and Linux) kernels manage power and electricity, both from the wall and the battery. I will cover how those software based controls can be manipulated to fry internal components and brick phones in abundance. I will also walk through what protections have been put in place to prevent these types of attacks and how those mechanisms can be circumvented.

Also, I might just break a phone or two...


  • Josh Thomas / m0nk as Josh "m0nk" Thomas
    Josh Thomas is currently the Chief Breaking Officer at Atredis partners. His specialties include advanced hardware and software reverse engineering, malware and rootkit development / discovery and software development. Josh has extensive experience in developing secure solutions for mobile platforms and a deep understanding of cellular architecture. He has also recently published advanced hardware vulnerability research on NAND Flash technologies and on the Linux kernel power utilization frameworks.

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