Feeds

Drive-by exploit slurps sensitive data from Android phones

Et tu, Gingerbread?

High performance access to file storage

A computer scientist has found a vulnerability in the latest version of Google's Android operating system that can be exploited to disclose sensitive user information.

The data-stealing bug in Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, allows attackers read and upload pictures, voicemail and other data stored on a handset's SD memory card, Xuxian Jiang, assistant professor in North Carolina State University's department of computer science, reported here. The vulnerability, which is exploited when a user clicks on a booby-trapped link, also allows attackers to upload phone applications to a remote server.

He said proof-of-concept code successfully carries out the attack on a stock Nexus S phone, which comes with Gingerbread installed. It's not clear if the attack works on other brands that also run the latest OS.

“We've incorporated a fix for an issue in the Android browser on a limited number of devices that could, under certain circumstances, allow for accessing application and other types of data stored on the phone,” a Google spokesman wrote in an email. “We're in communication with our partners.”

The fix will ship in an upcoming 2.3 maintenance release, Google said.

The information-disclosure threat is similar to one disclosed in November in Android 2.2 by researcher Thomas Cannon. Both vulnerabilities disclose data only when an attacker knows the precise name and path of a file stored on an SD card. The exploit can't break out of the security sandbox, so system data and email, SMS messages and files stored on the phone itself remain off limits.

Work arounds until a fix is available include, disabling Javascript in the Android browser, using an alternate browser or removing the SD card. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.