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Google Cellphones Handhelds Operating Systems Security IT Technology

Security Expert Warns of Android Browser Flaw 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the memory-leak-leading-to-robot-revolt dept.
justice4all writes "Google is working on a fix to a zero-day flaw discovered by British security expert Thomas Cannon that could lead to user data on a mobile phone or tablet device being exposed to attack. Cannon informed Google before posting information about the flaw on his blog. 'While doing an application security assessment one evening I found a general vulnerability in Android which allows a malicious website to get the contents of any file stored on the SD card,' Cannon wrote. 'It would also be possible to retrieve a limited range of other data and files stored on the phone using this vulnerability.'" Sophos's Chester Wisniewski adds commentary on how this situation is one of the downsides to Android's increasing fragmentation in the mobile marketplace.
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Security Expert Warns of Android Browser Flaw

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  • linkbait (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:03PM (#34360768)

    1. Have to know full path to a file to view it.
    2. Have to download a file, presumably from someone you don't know and trust.
    3. This is in all browser versions, so how exactly does fragmentation factor in?

    Like everything else, buzzwords like Android fragmentation guarantee hits.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:09PM (#34360806) Homepage

    "Zero-day" attacks are when the application developers had no awareness of the problem before the information got to people who might exploit the problem.

    TFA says Cannon gave Google prior warning, so this isn't zero-day, right?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-day_attack [wikipedia.org]

    I think news agencies just stick "zero-day" to all virus/bug news because it sounds scary.

  • Re:linkbait (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:17PM (#34360856)

    You didn't read TFA did you?

    1. Many file paths are standard and known, they are set by the OS or application.
    2. The download is automatic, when you visit a malicious website
    3. Fragmentation factors in because a fix can't be rolled out quickly (or at all) to the fragmented handsets which may or may not get updates from the OEMs/Carriers.

  • Re:linkbait (Score:5, Informative)

    by node 3 (115640) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:18PM (#34360860)

    Fragmentation affects the creation and distribution of the patch.

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday November 27, 2010 @08:10PM (#34361148) Homepage

    They just don't want to spend any more money on it. Android code gets released, then the OEM customizes it, and then the carrier finally customizes it. That's a lot of work -- the 10 or so current phones they've got out, plus their entire back catalog. They've already got your money. So long as it doesn't affect their network, why do they need to bother? It only takes one of the OEM or carrier to decide it's not important.

    Chester was entirely wrong about Windows Phone, too, unless he is confusing it with Windows Mobile (the pre-7 stuff). Windows Phone 7 is the complete opposite of how Android is doing it: Microsoft is basically trying to create an iPhone competitor in every way, but allowing for multiple devices. To do this they made very stringent hardware and software requirements -- all the phones are basically exactly alike on the inside. Samsung couldn't even use their own Hummingbird processor, because Microsoft only allows the Snapdragon. They also don't allow OEMs or carriers to modify the OS -- the most they can do is pre-install some apps, which act like every other app, so they can be fully removed and are automatically updated.

    Because of this, updating the OS is very very easy. There is no fragmentation, and Microsoft plans to push out all the updates themselves, exactly like Apple does. There might be a short delay between carriers to certify that it won't bork their network, but that's all. (Apple can hide this because they only have to do it with one carrier)

  • by F.Ultra (1673484) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @08:12PM (#34361156)
    I cant recall a single windows phone on which I could install patches directly from Microsoft. Yes there where a Windows Update button but it always timed out after 15 minutes telling me that it couldn't connect and I still had to wait for the phome manufacturer to release the patch (if ever). This on SE phones, perhaps there where other winphones where this worked better?

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