Android Users Exposed to Remote Hack via PNG File

Android phones vulnerable to maliciously crafted PNG images

One of the vulnerabilities fixed by Google could allow a hacker to seed malware by just sending a photo in PNG format. Should the user open the file, the exploit is triggered.

Craig Young, computer security researcher for Tripwire Inc.'s Vulnerability and Exposure Research Team, told SiliconANGLE that it appears that the vulnerability is directly related to how Android parses, that is interprets, an image before rendering it. Well, Google has uncovered a brand new security vulnerability that can be employed to hack Android smartphones using a PNG file.

The vulnerability, found in Android 7.0 Nougat through to Android 9.0 Pie, was first disclosed by Google in an Android Security Bulletin published February 4.

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And a similarly severe flaw at the system level could also allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code at a privileged level if they were to craft a malicious transmission delivered over Bluetooth. The severity assessment is based on the effect that exploiting the vulnerability would possibly have on an affected device, assuming the platform and service mitigations are turned off for development purposes or if successfully bypassed. The good news is that Google has patched the problems with an update to Android.

While Google has deliberately kept the details vague at this point, but it did confirm that a security patch has been rolled out to address this issue. Furthermore, there are no current reports of the PNG issue being exploited in the wild (which isn't surprising considering victims likely won't even realize they've been targeted), but the risk remains as long as your Android device doesn't get the latest security updates.

Google says it offers the monthly security patch to its OEM partners at least a month in advance but we have not heard from smartphone makers as to when then plan to release security patch for their devices. Several old devices will also not receive the update at all.

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