Stagefright vulnerability leaves 950 million Android devices vulnerable to remote code execution

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jul 28, 2015

The operating system has been patched, but it is unclear whether users will receive those patches.

Researchers at mobile security firm Zimperium have discovered a remote code execution flaw in the Stagefright media library used on Android phones. The vulnerability allegedly means it could, for instance, take one MMS message for an attacker to run code on a targeted device. In some cases, if the device is old, this code could even be run with elevated system privileges.

Few technical details have been made public so far, but Zimperium's Joshua J. Drake will present the research at the Black Hat and DEF CON security events next week.

A patch authored by Drake in the Android-based CyanogenMod operating system suggests the problem lies in a failure to check for edge cases. However, while Drake has published screenshots of him successfully targeting a device running Android Lollipop 5.1.1, it isn't immediately clear how easy it would be for an attacker to turn this into a workable exploit for all, or at least a large portion, of the 950 million vulnerable devices. In the worst case scenario, the exploit could be turned into a worm of a size not seen for a very long time.

The obvious solution to a problem like this is to patch the operating system. Indeed, Google patched the operating system within 48 hours of the vulnerability being reported to them. Unfortunately, Android users depend on their carriers rolling out patches and those carriers are known to be slow when it comes to delivering patches, if they do so at all.

But perhaps there is a silver lining to this cloud (no pun intended). Perhaps the Internet needs a huge and, apparently, easily exploitable vulnerability like this for carriers to realise that issuing patches to their customers isn't something they can do as and when it pleases them.

Posted on 28 July 2015 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Nominations opened for sixth Péter Szőr Award

Virus Bulletin is seeking nominations for the sixth annual Péter Szőr Award.

Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria to deliver VB2019 closing keynote

New additions to the VB2019 conference programme include a closing keynote address from Thinkst duo Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria and a talk on attacks against payment systems.

Free VB2019 tickets for students

Virus Bulletin is excited to announce that, thanks to generous sponsorship from Google Android, we are able to offer 20 free tickets to students who want to attend VB2019.

VB2018 paper: Lazarus Group: a mahjong game played with different sets of tiles

The Lazarus Group, generally linked to the North Korean government, is one of the most notorious threat groups seen in recent years. At VB2018 ESET researchers Peter Kálnai and Michal Poslušný presented a paper looking at the group's various…

Book your VB2019 ticket now for a chance to win a ticket for BSides London

Virus Bulletin is proud to sponsor this year's BSides London conference, which will take place next week, and we have a number of tickets to give away.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.