New Qualcomm Chip Bug Might Let Hackers Spy On Android Units

Cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a brand new safety vulnerability in Qualcomm’s cellular station modems (MSM) that would doubtlessly permit an attacker to leverage the underlying Android working system to slide malicious code into cell phones, undetected.

“If exploited, the vulnerability would have allowed an attacker to make use of Android OS itself as an entry level to inject malicious and invisible code into telephones, granting them entry to SMS messages and audio of cellphone conversations,” researchers from Israeli safety agency Verify Level said in an evaluation printed right this moment.

The heap overflow vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-11292, may very well be exploited by a malicious app to hide its actions “beneath” the OS within the modem chip itself, thus making it invisible to the working system and the safety protections constructed into it.

password auditor

Designed for the reason that Nineteen Nineties, Qualcomm MSM chips permits cell phones to hook up with mobile networks and permit Android to take to the chip’s processor through the Qualcomm MSM Interface (QMI), a proprietary protocol that allows the communication between the software program parts within the MSM and different peripheral subsystems on the machine corresponding to cameras and fingerprint scanners.

Whereas 40% of all smartphones right this moment, together with these from Google, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, and One Plus, use a Qualcomm MSM chip, an estimated 30% of the gadgets include QMI in them, based on research from Counterpoint.

“An attacker may have used this vulnerability to inject malicious code into the modem from Android, giving them entry to the machine person’s name historical past and SMS, in addition to the power to take heed to the machine person’s conversations,” the researchers mentioned. “A hacker also can exploit the vulnerability to unlock the machine’s SIM, thereby overcoming the constraints imposed by service suppliers on it.”

Verify Level mentioned it notified Qualcomm of the problem on Oct. 8, 2020, following which the chipmaker notified related cellular distributors.

“Offering applied sciences that assist strong safety and privateness is a precedence for Qualcomm,” the corporate informed The Hacker Information through e mail. “Qualcomm Applied sciences has already made fixes accessible to OEMs in December 2020, and we encourage finish customers to replace their gadgets as patches develop into accessible.” The corporate additionally mentioned it intends to incorporate CVE-2020-11292 within the public Android bulletin for June.

This isn’t the primary time important flaws have been present in Qualcomm chips. In August 2020, Verify Level researchers disclosed greater than 400 safety points — collectively known as “Achilles” — in its digital sign processing chip, enabling an adversary to show the cellphone right into a “good spying device, with none person interplay required.”

“Mobile modem chips are sometimes thought-about the crown jewels for cyber attackers, particularly the chips manufactured by Qualcomm,” mentioned Yaniv Balmas, head of cyber analysis at Verify Level. “An assault on Qualcomm modem chips has the potential to negatively have an effect on tons of of thousands and thousands of cell phones throughout the globe.”

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