Another serious vulnerability found in Android's media processing service

Rogue applications could exploit the flaw to gain sensitive permissions

Pixabay
Android

The Android service that processes multimedia files has been the source of several vulnerabilities recently, including a new one that could give rogue applications access to sensitive permissions.

The latest vulnerability in Android's mediaserver component was discovered by security researchers from antivirus firm Trend Micro and stems from a feature called AudioEffect.

The implementation of this feature does not properly check some buffer sizes that are supplied by clients, like media player applications. Therefore it is possible to craft a rogue application without any special permissions that could exploit the flaw to trigger a heap overflow, the Trend Micro researchers said Monday in a blog post.

By exploiting the vulnerability, the rogue application would be able to execute the same actions as the mediaserver component, which includes taking pictures, recording videos, reading MP4 files, and other privacy sensitive functions.

The flaw, which affects Android versions 2.3 to 5.1.1, was reported to Google in June and a fix for it was published to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) on Aug. 1, according to the researchers.

It is now up to phone manufacturers to incorporate the fix into their code and release firmware updates for affected devices. Even though the distribution of updates in the Android ecosystem has shown some improvements lately, there will likely be many devices that will not be patched because they are no longer supported.

At the beginning of August many device vendors launched a large scale patching effort in response to a separate vulnerability in Android's media processing code. The flaw was revealed last month and could be exploited remotely through an MMS message or a Web page.

In a talk at the Black Hat security conference on Aug. 5, Android's lead security engineer, Adrian Ludwig, referred to the Stagefright patching effort as the "single largest unified software update in the world."

However, security researchers from a firm called Exodus Intelligence reported last week that Google's initial patch for the Stagefright flaw was incomplete. This forced the Android team to create another patch which, according to The Register, Google already distributed to its partners and will deliver to its Nexus and Nexus Player devices in September.

In addition to the Stagefright vulnerability and this latest AudioEffect flaw, researchers from Trend Micro have also recently reported two other vulnerabilities in Android's media server component that could force devices into a reboot loop or cause them to become unresponsive.

Both Joshua Drake, the researcher who found the first Stagefright vulnerability, and the Trend Micro researchers have warned that Android's multimedia processing code is likely to be a source of future vulnerabilities.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?