Google has released its October 2016 Android Security bulletin, providing patches for 78 identified vulnerabilities, seven of which are rated as critical. Once again, the fixes include commonly patched elements, including Qualcomm components and flaws that have already been patched in the upstream Linux kernel.
The leading culprit of critical severity flaws in the October update is Qualcomm, with three issues (CVE-2016-3926, CVE-2016-3927 and CVE-2016-3929). Overall, there are 30 patched Qualcomm flaws in the October Android update. In addition to the three critical flaws, Qualcomm has 21 vulnerabilities rated as high and six rated as moderate severity. The Qualcomm vulnerabilities include privilege escalation and information disclosure related issues.
Qualcomm has been a leading source of vulnerabilities in Android this year. In Google's July Android update, three critical and 36 high severity flaws in various Qualcomm components were patched. Qualcomm was also the root cause behind the QuadRooter flaws disclosed by security firm Check Point in August. Google has since patched the QuadRooter flaws, which could have enabled attackers to compromise vulnerable Android devices, in both August and in September.
Among the other critical flaws patched in the October update is yet another set of issues that were previously patched in the upstream Linux kernel that Android is based upon. CVE-2016-0758 is a critical remote code execution vulnerability in the Linux kernel's ASN.1 decoder that was patched in the Linux kernel community in May. The CVE-2016-7117 vulnerability is a critical remote code execution vulnerability in the Linux kernel networking subsystem that was patched in the upstream community in March.
"A remote code execution vulnerability in the kernel networking subsystem could enable a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code within the context of the kernel," Google warns in its CVE-2016-7117 advisory.
Google is now also providing a patch for Android users for the CVE-2015-8955 vulnerability that was first fixed in the upstream Linux kernel in February. CVE-2015-8955 is a high severity, privilege elevation vulnerability in the kernel performance subsystem.
"An elevation of privilege vulnerability in the kernel performance subsystem could enable a local malicious application to execute arbitrary code within the context of the kernel," Google warns.
Android's much maligned media server didn't escape the October update unscathed either. Android's media server and related libraries have been under scrutiny from security researchers since June 2015, when the first Stagefright flaw was revealed. In the new October update, there are five media server flaws rated as high severity (CVE-2016-3909, CVE-2016-3910, CVE-2016-3913 CVE-2016-3932 and CVE-2016-3933) and three rated as moderate (CVE-2016-3924, CVE-2016-3920 and CVE-2016-5696).
While Qualcomm, upstream Linux and media server issues have been commonplace in Android updates, there are other issues that Google is addressing in the October update. Among the most noteworthy is CVE-2016-3908, which is a high severity issue in Android's lock setting service.
"An elevation of privilege vulnerability in Lock Settings Service could enable a local malicious application to clear the device PIN or password," Google warns in its advisory.
The CVE-2016-3908 issue was reported to Google by security researcher Zhanpeng Zhao from Cheetah Mobile. The ability to bypass a lock screen has become a hot topic of late, particularly on Apple's iOS.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.