Several serious security bugs in Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

A dozen of flaws have been found in Samsung's Android operating system running on Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones by researchers from Google’s Project Zero.  

However, Samsung claims to have patched most of the vulnerabilities.

As per the researchers, the flaws could allow an attacker to manipulate the privilege the device assigns to its apps, and access the victim's emails among other threats.

The research team reported the vulnerabilities to the concerned company in late July and eight of them were addressed by the vendor with its October maintenance release. The company has assured to patch remaining three security bugs later this month.

 Project Zero wanted to put the security of an OEM device to the test to see how it compares against Google’s Nexus, for which the Internet giant has started releasing monthly security updates.

“The majority of Android devices are not made by Google, but by external companies known as Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs which use the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) as the basis for mobile devices which they manufacture. OEMs are an important area for Android security research, as they introduce additional (and possibly vulnerable) code into Android devices at all privilege levels, and they decide the frequency of the security updates that they provide for their devices to carriers,” Project Zero researcher Natalie Silvanovich said in a blog post.

The researchers, who were asked to find vulnerabilities, looked for three types of issues that can be part of a kernel privilege escalation exploit chain, including gaining remote access to contacts, photos and messages, gaining access to such data from a Google Play application that requires no permissions, and using this access to persistently execute code even after a device wipe.

“Each team worked on three challenges, which we feel are representative of the security boundaries of Android that are typically attacked. They could also be considered components of an exploit chain that escalates to kernel privileges from a remote or local starting point,” Silvanovich said.

Among the eleven high severity issues, the most serious being a path traversal vulnerability (CVE-2015-7888) in the Samsung WifiHs20UtilityService service that can be exploited to write arbitrary files on the system.

The email client installed on Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge devices is also plagued by a serious flaw (CVE-2015-7889), which allows an attacker to forward a user’s emails to a different account via a series of intents from an unprivileged application. Another email client issue (CVE-2015-7893) can be exploited to execute arbitrary JavaScript code embedded in a message.

Google researchers also found issues related to drivers (CVE-2015-7890, CVE-2015-7891, CVE-2015-7892), and image parsing (CVE-2015-7894, CVE-2015-7895, CVE-2015-7896, CVE-2015-7897, CVE-2015-7898).

“Overall, we found a substantial number of high-severity issues, though there were some effective security measures on the device which slowed us down. The weak areas seemed to be device drivers and media processing. We found issues very quickly in these areas through fuzzing and code review. It was also surprising that we found the three logic issues that are trivial to exploit. These types of issues are especially concerning, as the time to find, exploit and use the issue is very short,” Silvanovich explained.


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