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Android Cellphones Handhelds Security

Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It 61

Ars Technica reports that a recently reported remote access vulnerability in Android is no longer just theoretical, but is being actively exploited. After more than 100,000 downloads of a scanning app from Check Point to evaluate users' risk from the attack, says Ars, In a blog post published today, Check Point researchers share a summary of that data—a majority (about 58 percent) of the Android devices scanned were vulnerable to the bug, with 15.84 percent actually having a vulnerable version of the remote access plug-in installed. The brand with the highest percentage of devices already carrying the vulnerable plug-in was LG—over 72 percent of LG devices scanned in the anonymized pool had a vulnerable version of the plug-in.
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Many Android Users Susceptible To Plug-In Exploit -- And Many Of Them Have It

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  • ...I'm not being exploited!
    • Oh well this must be all lies then.
  • I know I'm shocked...how about you? Is this shocking tech news or what??

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @12:38PM (#50388843) Journal

    I just realized that my LG G3 has the exploit vulnerability - and I'm freaking out because I know that it has been exploited!!!

    Oh, wait...I put that on there so I could root my device.

    Nevermind.

    • Funny - I have root access, alternate ROM, twrp, and an LG-G3. My phone is clean.
      • A good chunk of alternate ROMs have proved to be more secure than official ones. Cyanogen Mod comes to mind, if you can flash it on there of course.
    • by hAckz0r ( 989977 )
      Actually, I think WE were the ones exploited, when they talked us into buying a phone with a built-in OEM back door. Rooting may be the only way to fix the actual problem, being pwn'ed by the OEM and service provider.
  • 1. Am I affected?
    2. What is the fix?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      What is the fix?

      Buy an iPhone?

      • What is the fix?

        Buy an iPhone?

        H, that won't stop third parties accessing your data.

        • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

          H, that won't stop third parties accessing your data.

          But, if it comes with buggy crapware preinstalled by the manufacturer, you at least have some chance of getting a fix.

          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by hyperar ( 3992287 )

            H, that won't stop third parties accessing your data.

            But, if it comes with buggy crapware preinstalled by the manufacturer, you at least have some chance of getting a fix.

            Really?, i can disable preinstalled crap on my Android phone, i can choose what to run and what not to, can you or are you limited to what your phone's manufacturer allows you to?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by 0123456 ( 636235 )

              Really?, i can disable preinstalled crap on my Android phone, i can choose what to run and what not to, can you or are you limited to what your phone's manufacturer allows you to?

              Pretty much any non-Google Android phone has crapware you can't get rid of, and it's been the source of many of the horrible security problems of recent months. Samsung's keyboard app, for example, which downloads unsigned files to anywhere on the device.

              • Really?, i can disable preinstalled crap on my Android phone, i can choose what to run and what not to, can you or are you limited to what your phone's manufacturer allows you to?

                Pretty much any non-Google Android phone has crapware you can't get rid of, and it's been the source of many of the horrible security problems of recent months. Samsung's keyboard app, for example, which downloads unsigned files to anywhere on the device.

                You're wrong, i can disable pre-installed crap. Is it Andriod's fault that Samsung modifies the system?. I'm really not interested in what you or pretty much anybody thinks it's best, is up to everyone to choose which one they prefer. I was a Samsung user, and i'm pretty sure that it'd be a long time before i spend money on another of their products, that being said, i'll never buy an Apple product, they're not better, they don't have more features and they are waaaay more expensive than any of their alte

                • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                  by 0123456 ( 636235 )

                  You're wrong, i can disable pre-installed crap. Is it Andriod's fault that Samsung modifies the system?

                  Uh, I'm right. Just because you can disable preinstalled crap on your magic not-Google-but-not-locked-down Android phone, doesn't mean that most Android users can.

                  Again, I was pointing out that, if you buy an iPhone, the only preinstalled crap comes from Apple, and they can quickly ship a fix. If you buy Android, the preinstalled crap comes from Xonaxzuing Enterprises, Inc, and... you'll never get a fix.

                  • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

                    by hyperar ( 3992287 )

                    You're wrong, i can disable pre-installed crap. Is it Andriod's fault that Samsung modifies the system?

                    Uh, I'm right. Just because you can disable preinstalled crap on your magic not-Google-but-not-locked-down Android phone, doesn't mean that most Android users can.

                    Again, I was pointing out that, if you buy an iPhone, the only preinstalled crap comes from Apple, and they can quickly ship a fix. If you buy Android, the preinstalled crap comes from Xonaxzuing Enterprises, Inc, and... you'll never get a fix.

                    No you're not, i did it on my previous SAMSUNG Galaxy S3 and on my new Motorola X, so, you're wrong. If you don't know how to do it, doesn't mean that it isn't true. Since i did it, SEVERAL times, you're wrong, and i my phones were not rooted nor modified in any way. You'll get a fix IF Apple decided to provide one, your assumption that Apple will do it because it's Apple and that any Andriod phone won't because it's Google is meaningless and shows that you don't know what you're talking about.

                    • by Anonymous Coward

                      I'll give both of you a dollar to shut up.

                • You're wrong, i can disable pre-installed crap. Is it Andriod's fault that Samsung modifies the system?.

                  Is who's fault it is supposed to make some difference?

                  It is exactly what it is.

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @01:08PM (#50389069)

      It doesn't bother to mention that the plugin in question is Team Viewer, which apparently comes pre-installed on some phones.

    • It does so for a reason. They want you on a support contract, and the more unreasoning fear, the better. Google designed it that way.
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @12:44PM (#50388887) Journal

    The article states it "discovered installed on an infinitesimal percentage of devices". These are devices with TeamViewer installed, an application DESIGNED to allow someone to remotely control your device over the network.

    If you install TeamViewer on Windows, people can take over your machine over the internet. If you install TeamViewer on Mac, people can take over your machine over the internet. That's what it's designed for. Therefore, from a security perspective TeamViewer is a very bad idea.

    It's no surprise that an application designed to give someone else full control of your machine is imperfect, and therefore can sometimes allow full access by someone who shouldn't have access.

    • by piojo ( 995934 )

      If you install TeamViewer on Mac, people can take over your machine over the internet. That's what it's designed for. Therefore, from a security perspective TeamViewer is a very bad idea.

      It's no surprise that an application designed to give someone else full control of your machine is imperfect, and therefore can sometimes allow full access by someone who shouldn't have access.

      Wee difference there. On Android, nobody is supposed to get full control of the system. If someone is using TeamViewer to control it, they should not need more permissions than the local user has. After all, it's a screen sharing app. The remote user can only do what the local user can do.

      It seems like the app has additional permissions to do things that normally wouldn't be possible (screen capture is what the article mentions), but somehow these extra permissions are made available to one of the users. Th

      • > If someone is using TeamViewer to control it, they should not need more permissions than the local user has. After all, it's a screen sharing app. The remote user can only do what the local user can do.

        The local user can root the device and can replace operating system files. As expected (but not exactly as designed), TeamViewer can be used to get quite a bit of access.

        The design is that the local user has some limits, or at least that it's _inconvenient_ for the local user to do certain things, inc

        • by piojo ( 995934 )

          I don't believe you've understood Android's security model (though I'm not an expert myself). The local user cannot do those things, and the user does not have ultimate permission. Unless there is an exploit on the device. There have been plenty of devices that were un-rootable. My HTC One M7 was un-rootable (probably still is), unless you use HTC tools to perform operations on the device when it is not booted into Android. There was literally no way for the OS's local user to gain escalated permissions. If

          • The M7 was released in March 2013. By May 2013, there were youtube videos showing how to root it.

            http://www.xda-developers.com/... [xda-developers.com]

            "Unless you use HTC tools", what kind of criterion is that? If HTC provides a tool to root the phone, why wouldn't you use it? You _could_ write your own tool that does the same thing as the HTC tool, but why bother? With your M7, like all other devices, local access is in fact full access. (Btw I do this stuff for a living.)

            My claim is that if you install Team Viewer, you

            • by piojo ( 995934 )

              I was referring to the firmware it had when I bought it. *My* M7 was unrootable from within the OS. Those HTC tools don't operate within the Android OS, so that's why they get a pass in my book. This tool isn't launched from the phone, but from a computer, and it can only connect when the phone is in a hardware debugging mode (no apps, no configurability, not even a touchscreen interface).

              I think I see our disagreement. If you consider playing with chips to be part of local access, then indeed local access

              • I think our apparent "disagreement", might stem from talking about different things. You seem to be talking about how things _should_ work, how it would be if people were perfect, their designs were perfect, and their implementation was perfect. I hear you saying "this shouldn't be, it's an error".

                I agree it's an error. I _expect_ errors. I've looked at a lot of code over the last 20 years, thousands of examples written by thousands of different programmers. I can count the bug-free instances on one hand.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When you DON'T make the user able to administrate the machine, s/he cannot secure it because of insufficient rights.
    The carriers of course DON'T care because more bandwidth being fraudulently used by malware equals MORE MONEY.

    The same problem exists with tablets.

    And yes, I know there is a way to root the devices but this is not within the reach of even the most technical users.

  • That is so cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by piojo ( 995934 ) on Tuesday August 25, 2015 @12:50PM (#50388937)

    > Check Point researchers found an app that is actively exploiting the vulnerability. A tool called “Recordable Activator” from UK-based Invisibility Ltd is advertised as an “EASY screen recorder” that doesn’t require root access to the device. But in fact once installed from the Google Play store, the app downloads a vulnerable version of the TeamViewer plug-in from another source... "“it’s [the plug-in] considered trusted by Android, and is granted system-level permissions. From this point ‘Recordable Activator’ exploits the authentication vulnerability and connects with the plug-in to record the device screen.”

    Am I the only one that thinks this is incredibly cool? It's not clear to me whether this is exactly the same thing as a root exploit, but some screen recording app developers figured out they could hijack an old version of a well-known app that can do screen recording. This is just a beautiful hack.

    But I didn't think having system-level permissions was enough to root a device. And furthermore, does this hack let you do arbitrary actions, or only the actions that the plugin would do?

  • the check point scanner page (not the app itself, that would be silly to link to in this context) is https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who the hell would voluntarily install software from Check Point on their phone?!?
  • If you are using the Exchange Connector for gmail, your phone is already chowned. Why hasn't google suspended that component?

  • "Check Point discovered that one application in the Google Play store is exploiting the vulnerability .. While the app was discovered installed on an infinitesimal percentage of devices checked by Check Point"

    Download and install a compromised app from the Google Play store - doh !
  • I understand the problem is that vulnerable software was signed and is therefore trusted. Google did not set up any way to revoke certificates?

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