Fix for critical Qualcomm chip flaw is making its way to Android devices

Fix for critical Qualcomm chip flaw is making its way to Android devices

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Makers of high-end Android gadgets are responding to the invention of a Qualcomm chip flaw that researchers say could possibly be exploited to partially backdoor a few third of the world’s smartphones.

The vulnerability, found by researchers from safety agency Verify Level Analysis, resides in Qualcomm’s Cellular Station Modem, a system of chips that gives capabilities for issues like voice, SMS, and high-definition recording, totally on higher-end gadgets made by Google, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, and OnePlus. Cellphone-makers can customise the chips so that they do extra issues like deal with SIM unlock requests. The chips run in 31 % of the world’s smartphones, in response to figures from Counterpoint Analysis.

The heap overflow the researchers discovered may be exploited by a malicious app put in on the cellphone, and from there the app can plant malicious code contained in the MSM, Verify Level researchers mentioned in a blog post printed Thursday. The practically undetectable code may then be capable of faucet into a few of a cellphone’s most significant features.

“This implies an attacker may have used this vulnerability to inject malicious code into the modem from Android, giving them entry to the system person’s name historical past and SMS, in addition to the power to hearken to the system person’s conversations,” the researchers wrote. “A hacker may also exploit the vulnerability to unlock the system’s SIM, thereby overcoming the restrictions imposed by service suppliers on it.”

Fixes take time

Verify Level spokesman Ekram Ahmed advised me that Qualcomm has launched a patch and disclosed the bug to all clients who use the chip. Due to the intricacies concerned, it’s not but clear which weak Android gadgets are mounted and which of them aren’t.

“From our expertise, the implementation of those fixes takes time, so among the telephones should be susceptible to the risk,” he wrote in an e mail. “Accordingly, we determined to not share all of the technical particulars, as it might give hackers a roadmap on the right way to orchestrate an exploitation.”

In a press release, Qualcomm officers wrote:

Offering applied sciences that assist sturdy safety and privateness is a precedence for Qualcomm. We commend the safety researchers from Verify Level for utilizing industry-standard coordinated disclosure practices. Qualcomm Applied sciences has already made fixes out there to OEMs in December 2020, and we encourage finish customers to replace their gadgets as patches turn out to be out there.

On background, a spokesman mentioned that the vulnerability may also be included within the public June Android bulletin. He really helpful that customers contact cellphone producers to seek out out the standing of fixes for his or her gadgets.

The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2020-11292. Verify Level found it by utilizing a course of often known as fuzzing, which uncovered the chip system to uncommon inputs in an try to seek out bugs within the firmware. Thursday’s analysis gives a deep dive into the internal workings of the chip system and the final define they used to use the vulnerability.

The analysis is a reminder that telephones and different modern-day computing gadgets are literally a group of dozens if not tons of of interconnected computing gadgets. Whereas efficiently infecting particular person chips usually requires nation-state-level hacking sources, the feat would enable an attacker to run malware that couldn’t be detected with out money and time.

“We imagine this analysis to be a possible leap within the extremely popular space of cellular chip analysis,” Verify Level researchers wrote. “Our hope is that our findings will pave the way in which for a a lot simpler inspection of the modem code by safety researchers, a job that’s notoriously exhausting to do right now.”

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