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Android IBM Security

KeyStore Vulnerability Affects 86% of Android Devices 71

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-lot dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "IBM security researchers have published an advisory about an Android vulnerability that may allow attackers to obtain highly sensitive credentials, such as cryptographic keys for some banking services and virtual private networks, and PINs or patterns used to unlock vulnerable devices. It is estimated that the flaw affects 86 percent of Android devices. Android KeyStore has a little bug where the encode_key() routine that is called by encode_key_for_uid() can overflow the filename text buffer, because bounds checking is absent. The advisory says that Google has patched only version 4.4 of Android. There are several technical hurdles an attacker must overcome to successfully perform a stack overflow on Android, as these systems are fortified with modern NX and ASLR protections. The vulnerability is still considered to be serious, as it resides in one of the most sensitive resources of the operating system."
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KeyStore Vulnerability Affects 86% of Android Devices

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  • Re:Serious? (Score:2, Informative)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:56PM (#47341531)

    And good luck updating all the Android devices.

    Especially sense most of them are abandoned shortly after release and can NEVER be upgraded.

  • by Intron (870560) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @02:20PM (#47341621)

    Yes. It is trivial to make data structures that do bounds checking automatically. I remember this being on by default in Pascal in the 80's. Those who prefer speed over security won long ago. Why slow down a processor that can only do 1 billion instructions per second with an extra test and branch?

  • Re:Serious? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @03:21PM (#47341867)

    Buy an iPhone then.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday June 28, 2014 @06:09PM (#47342545) Homepage Journal

    I don't think old devices are vulnerable, and while 4.3 devices are vulnerable, most of them have an additional countermeasure in place that should protect against any actual disclosure of private keys.

    In older devices, it looks like prior to changing keystore to use the Binder API the bounds checking was done at a higher level in the call stack, so the code isn't actually vulnerable. When keystore's API was changed to be Binder-based, that checking was lost, enabling the bug. Looking at the git log, the Binder keystore API was merged in November 2012 [googlesource.com] which I believe means that only 4.3 devices are vulnerable. It appears the bug was identified and fixed before 4.4 was released.

    But most 4.3 devices, at least from major vendors, have hardware-backed key storage. All Nexus devices do. They're vulnerable to the bug, but the private keys are completely inaccessible to the Android userspace and kernel, so there's no way the key material can be leaked. To see if your device has hardware-backed key storage go to Settings -> Security and scroll down to "Credential Storage". If it says "Storage type Hardware-backed", then keystore private keys are not accessible to the Android OS userspace or kernel, so there's no way they could leak.

    One caveat: Until 4.4 (I think), only RSA keys could be managed by secure hardware. So DSA and ECDSA private keys in 4.3 device keystores could leak via this vulnerability. In the future we should have support for all sorts of keys in secure hardware (https://android-review.googlesource.com/#/c/97651/ [googlesource.com] -- yes, I'm the author of that CL), as well as a mechanism for checking the hardware vs software storage question on individual keys.

    I'm not trying to say this wasn't a pretty serious error on Google's part. Even with the bounds check higher in the call stack, it should have been done in keystore as well. Security-sensitive code like this should take a belt-and-suspenders approach, not depending on validation done at other layers, specifically because stuff at other layers changes. Actually, I know the guy who wrote it and that is the way he thinks, too, so I'm somewhat surprised he wrote this bug.

    (Note: I recently joined the Android security team, and it looks like I may be the maintainer of keystore. I am taking the lead on hardware-backed key storage. However, I should mention that I'm not speaking in an official capacity, just someone who knows the code a bit and took a few minutes to look through the git logs.)

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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