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Android Security

Certifi-gate: Another Huge Android Vulnerability 69

An anonymous reader writes: Security research firm Check Point has released information about a new vulnerability called Certifi-gate, which they say compromises the security of hundreds of millions of Android devices. The flaw exists within the mobile Remote Support Tools, which are intended to enable screen sharing and simulated taps for tech support purposes. Unfortunately, the way mRSTs validate the remote operator is easy to exploit. Because the software is designed to allow both monitoring of a device's screen and simulated input, the potential for misuse is quite serious. The flaw was disclosed to manufacturers a month ago. HTC, for one, has confirmed it is already starting to roll out a fix.
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Certifi-gate: Another Huge Android Vulnerability

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  • Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Friday August 07, 2015 @10:11PM (#50273073) Journal

    Certifi-gate

    Okay, y'all have had your fun. Enough of this bullshit.

  • Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @10:30PM (#50273125)

    Why is it HTC's responsibility to patch it? Why not a global patch from Android.

    In addition if a car manufacturer knows there is a serious issue with a car and doesn't recall, they are liable for the accidents that happen.
    Why aren't software corps held to a similar standard if security researchers have informed them of the bug.

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @10:42PM (#50273177)

      It's not HTC's responsibility to patch all devices. Each manufacturer has a different hardware configuration and usually runs their own "flavor" of Android - HTC's version of Android is different from Samsung's, which is different from Google's. It's not simply a case of Google saying "fix it" and shipping patches to every single Android device out there. Google doing that would be like the Debian group trying to ship Debian patches to Ubuntu - it wouldn't work.

      HTC is merely saying "We're stepping up as soon as possible to patch devices that originated from us, starting with the HTC One M9."

      • It's not simply a case of Google saying "fix it" and shipping patches to every single Android device out there. Google doing that would be like the Debian group trying to ship Debian patches to Ubuntu - it wouldn't work.

        Especially since in this case Google had nothing whatsoever to do with the problem. This one is entirely a consequence of OEMs adding insecure extensions to the base platform Google provides. Insecure extensions with root privileges, basically.

    • Why is it HTC's responsibility to patch it?

      Because the bugs lie in HTC's software and that software is baked in the firmware. While these things are an industry standard practice these days they aren't an Android - standard thing; stock Android, like e.g. the Nexus - devices use, don't have this bug.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @10:52PM (#50273213)

      Why is it HTC's responsibility to patch it? Why not a global patch from Android.

      Who is "Android"? Do you mean Google?

      If so, why should they be responsible - after all, HTC is the one who took a build of Android and customized it for your phone.

      In fact between HTC and Google, really HTC *should* be responsible since they are the ones that customized it in a way that you could not just take straight patches from Google.

      The problem is of course, that none of the phone makers are serious about security at all (they are making noises, but I'll bet it's just to placate the howling internet). So not only do they not patch Android themselves, they don't want to do the work to even fold in the fixes Google makes.

      What would be refreshing is to see a handset maker that really took ownership of the whole system. Sure they would build on Android to start, but they could do so much more - they could have their own security QA team looking for problems, fixing what they found and responding to security vulnerabilities even faster than Google.

      They could contribute that work back to Google even, safe in the knowledge it wouldn't even help competitors since they are unable to incorperate Android patches.

      Samsung *could* be that company. It's a mystery to me why they are not... they also are making noises about being serious about security but there has been so much hot air in the past around Google and phone makers cooperating "for real" that I refuse to take any statement at face value.

      • "Who is "Android"? Do you mean Google?"

        Clearly, you'd be confused even without the confusing statement. He means the Open Handset Alliance [openhandsetalliance.com]. Google is in charge of Google Apps. They are not the controlling and directing interest behind Android (though Android certainly started at Google)

        "What would be stupid, and counter to the whole point of an open software ecosystem is to see a handset maker that really took ownership of the whole system. "

        FTFY. To use a little word play with a popular a saying: "The

      • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday August 08, 2015 @02:22AM (#50273747) Homepage Journal

        really HTC *should* be responsible since they are the ones that customized it in a way that you could not just take straight patches from Google.

        It's even more than that, since the security vulnerability in this case was added by HTC. There are no remote support tools in the base Android platform, and therefore no insecure remote support tools.

        No Nexus devices have this problem.

        • by qubezz ( 520511 )
          There are many different backdoors in Android phones, I deodexed my rooted phone and killed off many carrier and vendor (and law enforcement) malware and remoting apks (the kind otherwise hidden and permission-locked) that operate over data, sms and phone connections, but it's almost impossible to know what still is in there in the baseband and core modules unless you have your own cell tower and fuzz everything they can send you. I consider my smartphone permanently rooted, easy to hack, and act accordingl
      • If so, why should they be responsible - after all, HTC is the one who took a build of Android and customized it for your phone.

        Well in this SPECIFIC case, its HTC software, not Android and not Google software that is insecure, so it truly isn't Googles fault.

        However, this is a rare case where its HTC/Samsung/Whoever rather than Google. Google on the other hand in most cases is the culprit, and you're not even aware of who's fault it actually is anyway. So lets continue this under the original premise that this is Google's flaw.

        Google bought Android and sold it to these manufactures as something they could modify and customize ...

    • Why is it HTC's responsibility to patch it? Why not a global patch from Android.

      That's an easy one. It's not possible to make a global patch to fix many kinds of vulnerabilities in Android, because there is too much variation between devices. In the case of the libstagefright vuln, libstagefright is custom to GPUs. In the case of this hole, FTFA:

      Vulnerable components of these 3rd party mRSTs are often pre-loaded on devices or included as part of a manufacturer or network providerâ(TM)s approved software build for a device. This creates significant difficulty in the patching proce

    • "Why is it HTC's responsibility to patch it? Why not a global patch from Android."

      Oh wait! I know this one! Because there is no company or organization called "Android" behind the Android platform!

      "In addition if a car manufacturer knows there is a serious issue with a car and doesn't recall, they are liable for the accidents that happen. Why aren't software corps held to a similar standard if security researchers have informed them of the bug."

      Oh wait! I know this one too! Because people don't die when

      • I bought it on eBay?

        U mad bro...

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          "I bought it on eBay? ... U mad bro..."

          I actually believe that given your obvious lack of knowledge of even the most basic high technology combined with your juvenile use of the letter U as a substitute for an actual word ... and no, ignorant douchebags who use the non-phrase "U mad bro" don't make me mad; they give me a reason to laugh. I am curious though ... why would I be mad that you are an idiot?

    • by WoOS ( 28173 )

      Because it is a vulnerability NOT in Android but in 3rd party remote control software installed by HTC. Please RTFA.

      Vulnerable components of these 3rd party mRSTs are often pre-loaded on devices or included as part of a manufacturer or network provider’s approved software build for a device.

      For your car analogy: If "TurboTuning Inc." broke your Chevy while trying to make it able to go 200 mph, would you sue Chevrolet to fix it? Well, obviously in the U.S. ....

  • I wish the phone I use was running something newer than 2.3.4.

    HTC updated it ONCE.

    It still works fine, but I probably need to get a new phone.

    • Re:I wish (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (eilrigyag)> on Friday August 07, 2015 @10:46PM (#50273191) Homepage

      Have you checked if there are any custom ROMs for it on XDA-forums? I got fed up with these vulnerabilities myself yesterday, what with LG taking a minimum of 6 months to even consider doing anything, and wiped my LG G2 and installed Cyanogenmod on it; no bloat, much slicker, and both this and the Stagefright - bugs have been fixed. I have Cyanogenmod 12 on my aging Galaxy Note, too, that I just have hanging around as a replacement phone should something happen to my G2: Samsung never updated the Note beyond Kitkat and Samsung's own firmware was rife with bugs and god damn that Touchwiz slowed things down, but, again, replacing the official ROM made the device feel like new.

  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday August 07, 2015 @11:03PM (#50273237) Journal

    I have a pretty decent phone. A flagship phone that's now 3 years old, the Moto Razr Maxx HD [engadget.com]. It's a bit long in the tooth, but it still has a sharp, bright screen, decent battery life, and while it's not lightning fast, it does everything I need smoothly and comfortably.

    But Moto doesn't sell it anymore. I'm pretty sure it's EOL anymore, which probably makes me SOL.

    But it keeps chugging on, and as a consumer, shorting of reading tech sites like /., I would never know that there's any problem at all. Meanwhile, my security keys are being lifted, my email passwords are stolen, and somebody's posting Donkey pictures on my Facebook account and I have no idea how or why.

    But, even if I *weren't* SOL, there's the issue that, while my Linux laptop gets updated daily, and my Windows laptop gets updated weekly, my phone gets updated (perhaps) a few times per year.

    See the problem, yet? We're seeing just the bare beginning.

    The bright boys at Google need to figure out a way to update Android and bypass the carriers, or at least, provide a side-channel way to roll out security updates, or their whole ecosystem will collapse in an orgy of viruses and malware.

    For my next phone, I just might make sure I can run Cyanogenmod on it, if for no other reason than the hope of getting security updates in a reasonable timeframe. [cyanogenmod.org]

    • Are you sure you can't install CM12 on your current phone? http://forum.xda-developers.co... [xda-developers.com] at a glance seems to offer everything you need. Your phone's specs are mostly similar to my old Galaxy Note's, ie. 720p display, 1GB RAM and such, and my Note certainly got a lot spiffier with CM12 and seems to consume less battery than it did with stock ROMs.

    • Looks like it's going to be monthly for Android
      http://www.wired.com/2015/08/g... [wired.com]

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Looks like it's going to be monthly for Android

        For what phones?

        I mean, remember, Samsung released 2-3 phones a week (and a tablet a week) - around 120-odd phones and 54 different tablets in 2014 alone.

        Are you telling me that every month Samsung is going to issue the better part of 200 software updates? Or more likely, they're just going to update maybe 5 of those phones monthly and the rest are screwed?

        LG isn't quite so bad, but they're still a large number of their phones out there.

    • by gTsiros ( 205624 ) on Saturday August 08, 2015 @12:20AM (#50273443)

      You think you have it bad? My barely two year old xperia z ultra, another "flagship", has already been pretty much abandoned, after releasing a half-assed update to lollipop with many bugs introduced which make you question if they even *have* a QA department (tapping the alarm icon in the status bar, for example, fails to open the alarm app... as it does in kk), I assume to please the masses.

      Their "user forums" are filled with idiots who either can't use their phones or poor sods who face actual problems but more often than not are asked to do a factory reset.

      Android had such potential, but google knly needs it to be popular for ad views thus it has become a shit operating system, development cycle and "ecosystem" in general.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Fortunately you don't need to worry about this one. It only works if you first install a malicious app, and you can bet that Google can easily scan for and block such apps from Play. In fact even if you install from outside the play Play store, Google will scan the binary anyway dit known exploits.

      You phone is fine, no need to panic. The story vastly exaggerates the danger in order to sell some crappy anti virus software you don't need.

  • This should prob. have been an interstitial ad instead of a story!
    What exactly is going on? Is it a problem with the installed certificates? Weakness in the tools? Which ones are effective and which are weak? How can I determine if my Android has this crapware installed?

    How did the moderators decide to let this story through?

    The links provide nothing more than a security scanner! There are no specifics other than 'Google is working with OEMs...'. So what? How about providing some information I can use....not ads that are designed to look like news stories.

  • As always with Android support durations: Android Support vs iOS Support [fidlee.com] which is in turn an update of Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support [theunderstatement.com]

    It's not that iOS is good -- compare it to how long Microsoft support a Windows version. It's that Android OEMs are shocking.

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