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Samsung Exynos flaw leaves many Galaxy devices wide open

by Mark Tyson on 17 December 2012, 11:15

Tags: Samsung (005935.KS), PC

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A new exploit for smartphones and tablets using Samsung’s Exynos chipset has been found by a developer at XDA. Alephzain at XDA Developers found the exploit, which gives developers, and potentially malware writers, access to RAM in devices powered by Samsung Exynos 4412 or 4210 processors. The access means that user data is easily accessible to developers for white hat purposes but also that it would be easy to brick or wipe the device – any app can gain root access without permissions on one of the affected devices.

Alephzain describes the security flaw as a “huge mistake” by Samsung and he says “the security hole is in kernel, exactly with the device /dev/exynos-mem”. He goes on to discuss the implications of the flaw: “The good news is we can easily obtain root on these devices and the bad is there is no control over it. RAM dump, kernel code injection and others could be possible via app installation from Play Store. It certainly exists many ways to do that but Samsung give an easy way to exploit. This security hole is dangerous and expose phone to malicious apps. Exploitation with native C and JNI could be easily feasible.”

The XDA community has informed Samsung about the flaw so hopefully a fix from the company will be forthcoming shortly. For now Android Central recommends that being “mindful of what you're downloading and installing, especially if you're downloading and installing pirate copies of apps” is a very good idea. However the Android-centric blog adds reassuringly that “It's worth noting that nobody has seen or heard of any malware using this bug, and likely never will.”

Android Central lists the devices powered by the Exynos 4210 and 4412 processor as:

  • Galaxy S II
  • Galaxy S III
  • Galaxy Note
  • Galaxy Note II
  • certain Galaxy Player models
  • Galaxy Tab 2 devices
  • Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Galaxy Camera

Also FYI, here is the XDA thread about the exploit and about an APK that uses it to gain root on the above devices.

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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I was sort of pleased to find out about this. One chainfire APK installed and moments later root access and i'm safe from the exploit. I do think it is poor of Samsung but maybe its just a case of rapidly expanding technical teams where the knowledge is too lightly spread as too many junior/inexperienced (with Android/Linux) developers?
Will Samsung release an in house fix for this? I heard that the camera is disabled with the above APK patch.
Will Samsung release an in house fix for this? I heard that the camera is disabled with the above APK patch.

I've just taken a photo with the built in and camera zoom fx apps and both seemed fine. I guess it might be some of the more advanced features that require the access but I think i'd rather be safe from the exploit and just not take that many photos!
Another reason to buy an iPhone.

Another reason to buy an iPhone.

iPhone??? why would anyone want that when you can have a nexus 4 for 2-300 sim free?

So slad I sold my S III when I did.