Security Protection – Harry Waldron MVP Rotating Header Image

Android Security – New Master Key vulnerability

This new vulnerability was responsibly disclosed to Google and demonstrated as proof-of-concept at recent Black Hat conference … If this materialized into an exploit, it could impact many folks as infected application code could be inserted when attempting to work with trusted signed applications …

http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/trend-micro-solution-for-vulnerability-affecting-nearly-all-android-devices/

http://bluebox.com/corporate-blog/bluebox-uncovers-android-master-key/

http://www.blackhat.com/us-13/briefings.html#Forristal

QUOTE: Last week, security researchers announced a new vulnerability for Android phones which could allow installed apps to be modified without the user being aware of it. Almost all Android devices are vulnerable, as the vulnerability has existed since Android 1.6 (Donut), and currently only the Samsung Galaxy S4 has been patched to protect against it.   The vulnerability – known in some quarters as the “master key” vulnerability – has attracted considerable media attention, but it has not always been accurately reported. We have updated Trend Micro Mobile Security to protect our users, but at the same time we wish to clarify what’s going on, what the threat is, and what users can do.

The vulnerability is related to how Android apps are signed. All Android apps have a digital signature from their developer, which verifies that the app actually did come from the developer and was not modified en route. An app can only be updated if the new version has a matching signature from the same developer. This particular vulnerability is in that last step. What researchers have found is a way for attackers to update an already installed app even if they do not have the original developer’s signing key. In short, any installed app can be updated with a malicious version.

This vulnerability can be used to replace legitimate apps on an Android device with malicious versions. Apps with many permissions – like those from the phone’s manufacturer or the user’s service provider – are at particular risk.  Once on the device, they can behave in the way that any malicious app would, except the user would think they were a completely legitimate app. For example, a modified/Trojanized app for a bank would continue to work for the user, but the credentials would have been sent to an attacker.

Recommendations

* Device owners should be extra cautious in identifying the publisher of the app they want to download.

* Enterprises with BYOD implementations should use this news to prompt all users to update their devices, and to highlight the importance of keeping their devices updated.

* IT should see this vulnerability as another driver to move beyond just device management to focus on deep device integrity checking and securing corporate data.

Comments are closed.