Are you an Android user? I have a bad news for you, an apparently harmless image on social media or messaging app could compromise your mobile device.
The last security updates issued by Google have fixed the Quadrooter vulnerabilities, that were threatening more than 900 Million devices, and a critical zero-day that could let attackers deliver their hack hidden inside an image.
The flaw, coded as CVE-2016-3862, is a remote code execution vulnerability in the Mediaserver. It affects the way images used by certain Android applications parsed the Exif data included in the images.
“Exchangeable image file format (officially Exif, according to JEIDA/JEITA/CIPA specifications) is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (includingsmartphones), scanners and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras. ” reads Wikipedia.
The flaw was first discovered by the security researcher Tim Strazzere from the SentinelOne firm, who explained that it could be exploited by hackers to take complete control of the device without the victim knowing or crash it.
“Strazzere told me that as long as an attacker can get a user to open the image file within an affected app – such as Gchat and Gmail – they could either cause a crash or get “remote code execution”; ergo they could effectively place malware on the device and take control of it without the user knowing.” explained Forbes.
The victim doesn’t need to click on the malicious image, neither on a link, because as soon as it’s data was parsed by the device it would trigger the CVE-2016-3862 vulnerability.
“The problem was made even more severe as a malicious hacker wouldn’t even need the victim to do anything. “Since the bug is triggered without much user interaction – an application only needs to load an image a specific way – triggering the bug is as simple as receiving a message or email from someone. Once that application attempts to parse the image (which was done automatically), the crash is triggered,” Strazzere explained.
What does it mean?
Just one photo containing a generic exploit can silently hack millions of Android devices, is a way similar to the Stagefright exploits that allowed the attackers to hack a smartphone with just a simple text message.
“Theoretically, someone could create a generic exploit inside an image to exploits lots of devices. However, due to my skill level, I had to specifically craft each one for the devices. Though once this is done, Gchat, Gmail, most other messengers or social media apps would likely allow this to trigger.”
Strazzere developed the exploits for the affected devices and tested them on Gchat, Gmail and many other messenger and social media apps.
Strazzere did not reveal the names of the other apps that are also affected by the CVE-2016-3862 vulnerability, it also added that the list of vulnerable software includes “privacy-sensitive” tools. Any mobile app implementing the Android Java object ExifInterface code is likely vulnerable to the vulnerability.
Google Android version from 4.4.4 to 6.0.1 are affected by the CVE-2016-3862 vulnerability, of course, the devices that installed the last update.
Google has already delivered a patch to fix the vulnerability, as usual, this doesn’t mean that your mobile has already applied it because the patch management depends on handset manufacturers and carriers.
So, if you are not running an updated version of the Android OS, you probably are vulnerable to the image-based attack.
Google rewarded Strazzere $4,000 as part of its Android bug bounty and added another $4,000, as the researcher had pledged to give all $8,000 to Girls Garage, a program of the nonprofit Project H Design for girls aged 9-13.
(Security Affairs – CVE-2016-3862 vulnerability, Android)