BadKernel Security Vulnerability Affects Android Devices

A security issue in the V8 Javascript engine used by Google which affects a large number of contemporary Android devices.

The BadKernel Vulnerability Is Serious

The issue which affects the V8 Javascript engines versions 3.2 – 4.2 has been discovered and amended in the summer of 2015. However, researchers have uncovered that it also affects a large number of contemporary devices that still use the older V8 engines in their software.

The issue is known as BadKernel and allows hackers to steal user data from the affected devices. The bug also allows them to access the camera, to acquire sent and received SMS messages and all other critical system components. This is a remote code execution flaw which allows the malicious users to take control of the device.

BadKernel can be exploited by loading a malicious web page which triggers the exploit in the Javascript engine. The code can easily be injected in compromised legitimate sites and BadKernel can be a part of the exploit kits that hackers typically use when targeting victims.

The V8 engine is built in the Chromium mobile browser framework, which is the open-source version of the Chrome browser. The engine is also bundled in the WebView Android component which is used by mobile developers to view Web content inside their applications without using other browsers.

Security experts identified that many popular applications like Facebook, WeChat, Twitter and Gmail use the default vulnerable version which is default on Android 4.4.4 up to version 5.1 of the operating system.

Some software development kits (SDKs) such as the Tencent X5.SDK deploy custom engines based on the vulnerable V8 editions. BadKernel vulnerable applications include popular Chinese apps such as QQ, Jingdong, and Sohu.

The research data states that all major smartphone vendors are affected by the BadKernel flaw. In total 41.48% of all Samsung smartphones may be affected by the issue, Huawei follows with a 38.89% probability, and Motorola devices have a 26.67% chance of being affected.

The most affected country appears to be Peru, where one in every five devices is vulnerable.

The most affected browser is the one bundled by LG in their products, 75.1% of all installations are vulnerable. Samsung’s own browser follows with a 41% vulnerabilities in all devices.

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Author : Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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