Google rolls out fix for Android security threat
Forecloses 'impersonation attacks' against users
Google has plugged a security hole that exposed the vast majority of Android phone users' calendars and contacts when they accessed those services over unsecured networks.
"Today we're starting to roll out a fix which addresses a potential security flaw that could, under certain circumstances, allow a third party access to data available in calendar and contacts," a company spokesman wrote in an email. "This fix requires no action from users and will roll out globally over the next few days."
The server-side fix addresses an implementation error in earlier versions of Android, which is used by more than 99 percent of those using the mobile operating system, according to Google figures. Versions 2.3.3 and earlier failed to transmit authentication tokens over an encrypted channels.
Attackers monitoring Wi-Fi hotspots and other open networks could exploit the weakness by copying the so-called authTokens and using them to gain unauthorized access to users' Google Calendars and Contacts.
The vulnerability could also cause devices synchronizing with Google Picasa web albums to transmit sensitive data through unencrypted channels, academic researchers from Germany's University of Ulm said.
The Google spokesman said the company's security team is still investigating those claims.
The fix forces Google servers to use an encrypted https connection when phones sync with Calendar and Contacts. ®
You'd think they'd know better
You'd think that a company like Google would know better than letting identification go through unencrypted channels (even a one-time token). Especially on a mobile device, which is deemed to connect through non-secure or even hostile networks. Calendar and contact ar not banking-site-grade things but still can be used to build further attacks, notably social engineering ones. Potentially not good.
Good that they fixed that one, and from the server side too, no problem from laggard network operators failing to release the upgrade to their clients.
Good against providers doing DPI
This is very good news, especially since Vodafone and KPN in the Netherlands have admitted to doing Deep Packet Inspection, which means that they could have your authentication token even when connecting over 3G.
Learn to read
This is a server side fix so you'll get it immediately as it has nothing to do with O2, your phone or it's manufacturer.