Serious security bugs put millions of Android devices at risk

(Image credit: Future)

A couple of high-severity vulnerabilities were recently discovered in a mobile framework serving the Android operating systems, putting millions of people at risk.

The Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team, which discovered the flaws in September last year, says they could have been used to launch serious attacks on target devices, resulting in data theft and partial device takeover.

According to a new blog post, Microsoft "uncovered high-severity vulnerabilities in a mobile framework owned by mce Systems and used by multiple large mobile service providers in pre-installed Android System apps that potentially exposed users to remote (albeit complex) or local attacks".

The vulnerabilities are being tracked as CVE-2021-42598, CVE-2021-42599, CVE-2021-42600, and CVE-2021-42601, with severity scores ranging from 7.0 to 8.9 out of 10.

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Taking over the device

Further detailing its findings, Microsoft said the mobile framework includes a service that could be leveraged to “allow adversaries to implant a persistent backdoor or take substantial control over the device".

The company notified both mce Systems and affected mobile service providers (some of which are  “international”), and teamed up with them to work on a fix. All of the vulnerabilities have now been addressed, the blog states. 

"We worked closely with mce Systems’ security and engineering teams to mitigate these vulnerabilities," Microsoft said, "which included mce Systems sending an urgent framework update to the impacted providers and releasing fixes for the issues. At the time of publication, there have been no reported signs of these vulnerabilities being exploited in the wild".

Google also pitched in, updating its Play Protect service to cover off the attack vectors.

While Microsoft says there is no evidence of the flaws being exploited in the wild, it did add that there could be more undiscovered providers affected by the flaw, including “several mobile phone repair shops” that might have installed vulnerable apps on people’s endpoints.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.