Monday, 01 August 2016 09:28

Android Stagefright bug still poses serious risks


More than a year after it was first discovered, the Stagefright vulnerability in Android phones is still being exploited, with hundreds of millions of users at risk.

Stagefright refers to the libstagefright media library in Android. The flaw was found by Zimperium vice-president for platform research and exploitation, Joshua Drake.

According to an analysis at eWeek, the Stagefright issues were to do with integer overflows that led to memory buffer overflows that were potentially exploitable.

Google has issued patches for 115 media server-related flaws, with 49 being found in libstagefright itself, 35 in libmedia, and 31 in libraries which are dependencies for libstagefright.

However, Google's patches are not re-issued by makers of other Android devices. Even in the case of Google, patches are fed regularly only to its higher-end Nexus devices.

While Google has said it will make improvements in its next release, Android-N, to isolate the media server issues, the changes are unlikely to be back-ported to earlier Android versions.

The discovery of Stagefright was what led to Google's deciding to issue monthly security updates for Android.

However, the updates have done little to reduce security issues in the Android sphere as few companies which make Android devices bother to collate and issue the patches to their userbase.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.





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