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12/20/2012
07:16 AM
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Samsung Acknowledges Severe Android Vulnerability

A serious vulnerability in the Android kernel for their Exynos processors in many of their phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S3, has been found by the Android hacking community. It may be used by any application to root (jailbreak) or unroot the device, brick it or even silently modify arbitrary memory or other applications.

A vulnerability in the Samsung Exynos Android kernel was recently found by a developer xda-developers group. Samsung has acknowledged the vulnerability and promised a software update to fix it as soon as possible.

Exynos is an ARM SoC (System on Chip) used in many of their devices, including the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy Note 2, and a few non-Samsung products such as the Lenovo LePhone.

The vulnerability gives the program complete access to device RAM and is being used for rooting devices, but can also be used by a malicious app to take control of the device, disable (brick) it or even silently modify arbitrary memory or other applications.

Samsung issued a statement about the flaw to Android Central:

Samsung is aware of the potential security issue related to the Exynos processor and plans to provide a software update to address it as quickly as possible.

The issue may arise only when a malicious application is operated on the affected devices; however, this does not affect most devices operating credible and authenticated applications.

Samsung will continue to closely monitor the situation until the software fix has been made available to all affected mobile devices.

As Samsung says, users who stick to legitimate apps from legitimate sources are unlikely to encounter this problem, but there have been many cases of malicious software being successfully submitted to the Google Play store.

Hat tip to the many Android-focused sites I linked to above and, originally, to Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure on Twitter.

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