BlackBerry OS vulnerability is seriously bad news for car owners, hospitals

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More than two months after it was first reported by Microsoft (opens in new tab), BlackBerry has admitted that its devices are not immune to critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in Internet of Things (IoT) (opens in new tab) and Operational Technology (OT) devices.

The vulnerabilities, collectively referred to as BadAlloc, stem from the usage of memory functions such as malloc, calloc, realloc, memalign, valloc, pvalloc, and more. Crucially these memory allocation functions are widely used in the software stacks of IoT devices.

BlackBerry has finally admitted that its embedded OS, QNX, also suffers from the BadAlloc vulnerability, reportedly leaving millions of cars, along with critical hospital and factory equipment, exploitable by hackers.

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According to BlackBerry’s security advisory (opens in new tab), a successful attack could exploit the vulnerability to execute denial of service attacks or run arbitrary code on the affected devices.

Dilly dallying

The Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) team reported the BadAlloc vulnerabilities to the US Cybersecurity (opens in new tab) and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) earlier this year.

However, based on details garnered from two anonymous sources, Politico reports (opens in new tab) that BlackBerry first denied its products were susceptible to BadAlloc, and then resisted making a public announcement that its QNX-powered devices were indeed vulnerable.

Security experts consulted by TechRadar Pro are not best pleased. Yossi Naar, Chief Visionary Officer and co-founder at Cybereason, believes BlackBerry’s disclosure is “appalling” and a good illustration of the sorry state of affairs of IoT security. 

“In general, IoT has terrible security, but it is hardly a concern in most cases. Some vendors do better, others do nothing. When you’re competing in a market, needing to balance cost, power consumption, size, scale and many other issues — security takes a back seat,” he said.

BlackBerry has urged users to patch their devices.

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.