Google has patched a vulnerability in its Android OS that could allow attackers to completely take over someone’s device to install programs, steal or change data, or create new accounts with full privileges.
The flaw (CVE-2020-0103) was one of 39 vulnerabilities affecting Android OS builds that use older security profiles and are spread throughout various components of Android that the company fixed in its latest security patch, according to a security bulletin published Monday.
The vulnerabilities pose a high risk for consumers as well as business and government institution users, the company said. However, the most critical of these—found in the System component of Android–could allow for remote code execution (RCE), depending on the existing privileges on the device, according to Google.
“The most severe of these issues is a critical security vulnerability in the System component that could enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted transmission to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process,” the company wrote in the bulletin.
However, the potential for exploitation depends on the privilege status of an application, according to the Center for Internet Security’s (CIS’s) advisory on the flaw.
“If this application has been configured to have fewer user rights on the system, exploitation of the most severe of these vulnerabilities could have less impact than if it was configured with administrative rights,” according to the post.
These vulnerabilities could be exploited through multiple methods such as email, web browsing and multimedia services (MMS) when processing media files, CIS explained in its post.
“Depending on the privileges associated with the application, an attacker could then install programs; view, change or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights,” according to the post. However, so far none of the vulnerabilities patched in the update have been exploited in the wild, according to CIS.
The critical flaw was one of eight that Google patched for the System component of Android. The rest of the flaws were rated high-severity, except for one, which was rated moderate.
Google also patched a critical flaw in Android’s Framework component, CVE-2020-0096, that could enable a local attacker to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process, the company said. The vulnerability was one of three patched in this component, the other two of which had a severity rating of high.
The only other critical vulnerability patched was a critical security vulnerability, CVE-2020-3641, found in the Qualcomm closed-source components. The flaw was one of 10 patched in these components, the rest of which were rated as high severity.
The security update also fixes four high-severity vulnerabilities in Android’s Media framework; eight high-severity vulnerabilities in Qualcomm components; four high-severity flaws in MediaTek components; and two high-severity vulnerabilities in Android Kernel components.
While the Android security platform and service protections such as Google Play Protect “reduce the likelihood that security vulnerabilities could be successfully exploited on Android,” Google recommended that Android users install the latest security patch just to be on the safe side.
Indeed, Google has historically struggled with the spread of malware via Android apps being downloaded from the Google Play store and has made a concerted effort in the last year and a half to try to stay on top of it.
Still, malware on the platform persists. Just last week researchers discovered a new Android mobile malware called EventBot that steals payment data from users of popular financial apps like PayPal, Barclays, CapitalOne and more.
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