December 18, 2012

Device Vulnerability on Some Samsung Smartphones

On Sunday, a software developer announced that he had identified a critical vulnerability in some Samsung smartphones and tablets. This vulnerability could allow a malicious application to take full control over a user’s device.

Exploit code was publicly published to the XDA Forum. This code is being actively used in root-enablement applications as a simpler method than using Samsung’s ODIN tool to flash device firmware. While we have no indication that this exploit is being used maliciously at this time, we will closely monitor the situation.

Developers have published a proof of concept patch that takes advantage of the vulnerability in order to fix it. Unfortunately, users have reported that these patches also break functionality such as the device camera. Until an official device patch is released, we urge consumers with vulnerable devices to exercise caution when downloading and installing applications.

The Details
The vulnerability results from a failure to restrict kernel address space mapped to userspace via /dev/exynos-mem on handsets with an Exynos 4412 or 4210 processor. Affected devices include:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (international only)
  • Meizu MX

The specific device driver, /dev/exynos-mem, is used by the handset camera and other graphics-related functions by three libraries:

  • /system/lib/hw/
  • /system/lib/hw/
  • /system/lib/

How to Stay Safe

  • Only download apps from reputable app stores and check that the developer is credible before downloading.
  • Download a mobile security app for your phone, like Lookout, that scans for malware.
  • Be aware of security vulnerabilities and make sure to update your phone and apps as they are available for your device.
One comment
  1. John Finn says:

    How does one go about checking to see if a developer is legitimate????

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