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PacketVideo opens doorway to Android

Google fans told to down browsers for the duration

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G1 owners have been warned to stop browsing immediately or risk exposing themselves to the worst of the internet, after researchers found a flaw in PacketVideo's runtime for Android.

The flaw was presented by security researcher Charlie Miller at the recent Schmoocon conference, as reported by ReadWriteWeb, and details are available at oCERT. Given the exploit allows arbitrary code execution, provided within a specially-crafted MP3 file, the security implications are serious - but not as serious as they could be thanks to Android's layered security model.

Not that the complexity of the exploit, or the robust security model, have prevented Miller from recommending that G1 users stop browsing entirely, or at least limit themselves to only visiting trusted sites using the T-Mobile network (avoiding the potential for DNS-spoofing, assuming T-Mobile's DNS' are secure).

ReadWriteWeb contacted Mocana's James Blaisdell for a second opinion, and got the same advice, though it's worth noting that James is CTO of a company that supplies security software for Android.

Google seems less concerned. Indeed the company has had a fix knocking around in its source tree since Monday this week, but T-Mobile hasn't got round to pushing it out to Android users yet.

Even if the flaw was successfully exploited, no mean feat in itself, the attacker would only have access to the browse at best, and more-likely would be restricted to the media player.

That's not to say that the flaw shouldn't be fixed, or that Charlie Miller doesn't deserve our respect for identifying the bug, but calling on Android users to stop browsing is little more than showboating and we'll continue to browse the web on out G1 for the moment, while we wait for a proper mobile-phone security issue to come up.®

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