Feeds

Android kernel leaks like a colander

359 defects, 88 high risk

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Security analysts at Coverity reckon the Android kernel is riddled with security holes, though they still rate it as twice as good as most open-source projects.

Taking the source code from the HTC Incredible, Coverity found .47 defects per 1,000 lines of code, compared with an industry average of 1 per 1,000. That totalled 359 defects, with 88 of those being high-risk items such as memory corruption, memory leaks and uninitialised variables. Buut Coverity won't be providing any details until the end of the year.

The company discovered the flaws though automated analysis of the source code, and will, in the name of responsible disclosure, provide early access to "the Android security team, OEMs, and security researchers" so they can apply fixes, or create proof-of-concept attacks, before the details go public in 60 days.

Until then, we're left to speculate what proportion of those bugs exist across Android kernel implementations – and how many could be usefully exploited for fun and profit. Manufacturers tweak the Android kernel to suit their hardware. The team only picked the HTC Incredible because they happened to have one handy, but the commonality of chip sets in Android handsets makes it likely the majority of flaws are common too.

Exploiting those flaws is another matter entirely. One can imagine a stack overflow allowing an application to break out of the sandbox security, but such an application would likely be quickly identified and (if distributed via the Marketplace) subsequently removed. It's possible that more-easily-exploited flaws exist too, but hopefully they'll be fixed before Coverity goes public.

Being open to scrutiny is one of the advantages of being open source, so this is no reason to trust your Android handset any less, and if you fancy yourself as a security researcher then drop Coverity a line to get more details. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.