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Google fixes Android bugs, including lingering Mediaserver flaw

Fahmida Y. Rashid | March 9, 2016
Google continues its monthly security update cycle for Android, fixing nearly 20 vulnerabilities in the latest bulletins

Google addressed 19 security vulnerabilities, seven of them rated critical, in its latest Android security update. 

The updates addressed critical security vulnerabilities in the keyring component, MediaTek Wi-Fi Driver, Conscrypt, the libvpx library, Mediaserver component, and the Qualcomm Performance component. The most severe vulnerability is the remote code execution flaw in Mediaserver that could be exploited through multiple methods, including email, Web browsing, and MMS, when processing maliciously crafted media files.

Mediaserver still vulnerable

Google has patched more than two dozen Mediaserver flaws since August, when the original Stagefright flaw was disclosed. Since then, Google's internal security team has been identifying and fixing other security vulnerabilities scattered throughout the rest of the Mediaserver and the libstagefright library code.

The steady stream of Mediaserver vulnerabilities has slowed, as this month's update fixed only two critical flaws (CVE 2016 0815, CVE 2016 0816) and three high-priority issues in Mediaserver.

"During the media file and data processing of a specially crafted file, vulnerabilities in Mediaserver could allow an attacker to cause memory corruption and remote code execution as the Mediaserver process," wrote Google in the security bulletin.

Google also patched an information disclosure vulnerability in libstagefright (CVE 2016 0824), two elevation of privilege vulnerabilities in Mediaserver (CVE 2016 0826, CVE 2016 0827), and two information disclosure vulnerabilities in Mediaserver (CVE-2016-0828, CVE 2016-0829). They are all rated as high priority because they cannot be used for remote code execution, but they can be used by attackers to gain elevated capabilities, such as Signature or SignatureOrSystem permissions, which most third-party apps should not have access to. The information disclosure flaws can be used to bypass security measures, while the elevation of privilege flaw could be used by a malicious app to execute arbitrary code.

The critical flaw in libvpx (CVE 2016 1621) is related to previous Mediaserver vulnerabilities, as attackers could exploit this issue to cause memory corruption and remote code execution as the mediaserver process. The flaw can be triggered with remote content, such as MMS messages or playing media files through the browser.

Multiple elevation of privilege bugs fixed

The remaining critical vulnerabilities are elevation of privilege flaws. The Conscrypt bug (CVE 2016 0818) could allow a specific type of invalid certificate to be trusted, resulting in a man-in-the-middle attack. A malicious app could trigger the flaw in the Qualcomm performance component (CVE 2016-0819) to execute arbitrary code in the kernel. The only way to repair the compromised device would be by re-flashing the operating system. The Kernel Keyring bug (CVE 2016-0728) will also let a malicious app execute arbitrary code locally, requiring reflashing the operating system. However, the Kernel Keyring component is protected in Android versions 5.0 and above because SELinux rules prevent third-party applications from accessing the vulnerable code, according to the bulletin.

 

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