Google patches Android after Bitcoin wallet issue

Applications that used the random number generator within Android could be at risk

Google is distributing patches for a cryptography flaw in Android that may affect hundreds of thousands of applications.

The patches have been passed to partners belonging to the Open Handset Alliance, a trade group dedicated to development of Android, wrote Alex Klyubin, an Android security engineer.

Affected applications are those that rely on the pseudo random number generator (PRNG) within the Java Cryptography Architecture or "directly invoke the system-provided OpenSSL PRNG without explicit initialization on Android," Klyubin wrote.

Random numbers are used in part to generate secure encryption keys and for other cryptography processes. In some cases, the numbers were not "cryptographically strong values," Klyubin wrote.

Application developers are advised to "evaluate whether to regenerate cryptographic keys or other random values previously generated," he wrote.

The flaw became widely known after a Bitcoin developer group warned Sunday that it made bitcoins stored in some Android software clients vulnerable to theft.

According to a post on a popular Bitcoin forum on Saturday, several users reported they were victims of theft, with their coins sent to an address that had amassed 55.82 bitcoins, worth around US$6,200 at market price on Thursday.

In the case of the Bitcoin clients, the random numbers are used to formulate transaction IDs that are entered into the blockchain, the public ledger of Bitcoin transactions.

If the same random number is used in some transactions associated with the same Bitcoin address, it could allow an attacker to figure out the private key. With the private key, an attacker could steal someone's bitcoins.

At least four Android Bitcoin clients -- Bitcoin Wallet, Blockchain, Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet and BitcoinSpinner -- were fixed just before Google's patch release.

Symantec found that as many as 360,000 other Android applications rely on the component in a similar fashion as the Bitcoin software applications.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags patchesGooglesecurityExploits / vulnerabilities

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?