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Quadrooter makes 900m Android devices vulnerable

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Mobile researchers from Check Point Software Technologies have announced four new vulnerabilities affecting over 900 million Android smartphones and tablets.

In his presentation at Def Con 24, Check Point lead mobile security researcher Adam Donenfeld revealed four major vulnerabilities affecting Android devices built using the Qualcomm chipsets. Qualcomm is the world’s leading designer of LTE chipsets, with a 65% share of the LTE modem baseband market in the Android ecosystem.

Check Point calls the set of vulnerabilities QuadRooter. If exploited, the vulnerabilities can give attackers complete control of devices and unrestricted access to sensitive personal and enterprise data on them. Access could also provide an attacker with capabilities such as keylogging, GPS tracking, and recording video and audio.

The vulnerabilities are found in the software drivers Qualcomm ships with its chipsets.  An attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities using a malicious app.  This app would require no special permissions to take advantage of the vulnerabilities, which means it would not make users suspicious.  The estimated 900 million affected devices include these models:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Google Nexus 5X, 6 & 6P
  • HTC One M9 & HTC 10
  • LG G4, G5 & V10
  • Motorola Moto X
  • BlackBerry Priv

Since the vulnerable software drivers are pre-installed on devices at the point of manufacture, they can only be fixed by installing a patch from the device’s distributor or carrier.  Distributors and carriers issuing patches can only do so after receiving fixed driver packs from Qualcomm.

Check Point has released a free QuadRooter scanner app, available from Google Play, that enables Android users to find out if their device is vulnerable, and prompt them to download patches for the problem.  The link will be also available from http://blog.checkpoint.com/

Michael Shaulov, head of mobility product management for Check Point said:  “Vulnerabilities like QuadRooter bring into focus the unique challenge of securing Android devices, and the data they hold.  The supply chain is complex, which means every patch must be added to and tested on Android builds for each unique device model affected by the flaws.  This process can take months, leaving devices vulnerable in the interim, and users are often not made aware of the risks to their data. The Android security update process is broken and needs to be fixed.”

Check Point recommends the following best practices to help keep Android devices safe from attacks that try to exploit any vulnerabilities:

·       Download and install the latest Android updates as soon as they become available.

·       Understand the risks of rooting devices – either intentionally or from an attack

·       Avoid side-loading Android apps (.APK files) or downloading apps from third-party sources. Instead, download apps only from Google Play.

·       Read permission requests carefully when installing any apps. Be wary of apps that ask for permissions that seem unusual or unnecessary, or use large amounts of data or battery life.

·       Use known, trusted Wi-Fi networks or while traveling use only those that you can verify are provided by a trustworthy source.

·       End users and enterprises should consider using mobile security solutions designed to detect suspicious behaviour on a device, including malware that could be obfuscated within installed apps.

Check Point researchers provided Qualcomm with information about the vulnerabilities in April 2016. The team then followed the industry-standard disclosure policy (CERT/CC policy) of allowing 90 days for Qualcomm to produce patches before disclosing the vulnerabilities.   Qualcomm reviewed these vulnerabilities, classified each as high risk, and has since released patches to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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