Android Code-Signing Weaknesses Put Most Phones at Risk
A weakness in the way Android verifies changes to an app's code allows hackers to turn any application into a malicious Trojan, according to Bluebox.A flaw in the application security checking on Android operating systems could allow attackers to turn legitimate applications into Trojan horses without ever needing to grab code off the device, researchers at mobile security startup Bluebox Security stated in an analysis published July 5. Typically, the Android operating system checks that applications are signed by a legitimate developer each time they are launched. Yet researchers at the startup discovered a way to circumvent the check, allowing the modification of applications on the device without setting off alarms in the operating system, Bluebox Chief Technology Officer Jeff Forristal told eWEEK. "The idea of a normal app being stuck inside the sandbox—and what attackers can do from inside the sandbox—is the risk that the world knows and accepts right now," he said. "This [technique] gives the app the ability to escape the sandbox and do a heck of a lot more." Bluebox, which will give full details of the issue July 31 to Aug. 1 at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, notified Google of the issue in February 2013. Google issued a patch to device manufacturers a month later and is currently scanning for the issue in the Google Play market, a spokesperson for the technology giant told eWEEK.
"We have not seen any evidence of exploitation in Google Play or other app stores via our security scanning tools," the company said in a statement sent to eWEEK. "Google Play scans for this issue—and Verify Apps provides protection for Android users who download apps to their devices outside of Play."