Major Security Vulnerability Affecting All Android Devices Running Android 10 & 11 Discovered; Users Need to Take Action and Patch
- Missing permission check, in a core pre-installed app results in a vulnerability
- Arbitrary app components could be disabled, potentially leading to a local Denial of Service (DoS) attack without requiring any additional privileges or user consent
- Vulnerability has since been patched and all Android users are encouraged to update their devices
Kryptowire Inc., a mobile security and privacy solutions company, today publicly announced the discovery of a major security vulnerability (CVE-2021-0706) affecting all Android devices and vendors running Android versions 10 & 11. First discovered in July 2021, Google considered the vulnerability to be of “high” severity and offered a patch within three months. However, on average, only a minority of users (17%) installed an update on the day of its release and the update rate significantly drops over the period of 102 days, with only 53.2% of users, on average, updating within a week¹. With more than 50% of Android tablet and mobile users currently running Android 10 & 11², Kryptowire encourages Android users to routinely update their devices to prevent exploitation.
This particular vulnerability, discovered by Kryptowire, allowed unauthorized apps to make device-level changes, which could be used to disable apps providing security defenses, hold the device for ransom, cause the device to persistently crash at boot (requiring the user to wipe the device to recover it, resulting in potential data loss), bypass third-party lock-screen apps, disable competitor apps, among other uses.
The vulnerability was discovered during a routine scan of a pre-production device with Kryptowire’s Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST) solution, which enables companies to proactively detect security weaknesses and vulnerabilities in mobile apps. Kryptowire discovered the vulnerability in a pre-installed app called System UI, where users were exposed to unauthorized privilege escalation and local Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. The System UI application is present in core Android code, which affects all Android vendors. A patch, released in October 2021, remediates this vulnerability. According to StatCounter, more than 50% of Android tablet and mobile users are currently running Android 10 & 11.
For more technical information on the vulnerability visit: https://www.kryptowire.com/blog/Disabling-Arbitrary-App-Components-Vulnerability-in-AOSP
Best Practices to Keep your Mobile Device Safe
- Automatic Updates – Turn on automatic updates whenever possible; if a trusted program prompts you to opt into automatic updates, say yes.
- Backup Data – Have a secure archive of your important information, whether that’s classified documents for your business or treasured photos of your family. Backing up your data allows you to restore your device quickly and seamlessly in the event of data loss.
- Secure Apps Regularly – Only download apps from the official Google Play Store or Apple App Store, delete apps you no longer need and scan all apps for potential vulnerabilities and privacy issues.
- Mobile Security Software – Add an extra layer of protection against ransomware, dangerous websites, unsafe Wi-Fi networks, unwanted access to your device, and more.
- Be in the Know – Stay on top of the latest threats to help protect yourself from known vulnerabilities.
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