Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Certifi-gate Vulnerability

Certifi-gate

Certifi-gate Vulnerability – Disclosed at Black Hat Conference

Mobile application manipulating the Certifi-gate vulnerability which was disclosed at Black Hat conference in Las Vegas earlier this month has been removed from the Google Play store. Although the number of Recordable Activator downloads, which is a screen recorder app for Android devices soars between 100,000 and a half million, researchers at Check Point Software Technologies discovering the vulnerability stated that it would be successfully manipulated on only three devices.

The company had mentioned in a blog post, that the data seems to come from Check Point’s home-based Certifi-gate scanner application. Data from scans utilising the scanning app portray that LG devices the most are at a risk, together with Samsung and HTC, and 16% of the devices responding to scans indicate that they host vulnerable plugins. Certifi-gate which was revealed at Black Hat, three weeks ago and when misused, enables an attacker to take complete control of the device by using malicious mobile app or SMS message. The weakness is due to the third party remote support tools which are either pre-installed on Android devices by the developers and/or carriers, or are available to be downloaded.

Mobile Remote Support Tools – mRST

Mobile remote support tools – mRST tend to be generally signed with OEM certificates proving them system level privileges for the purpose of handling remote support tasks. It was revealed by Check Point at Black Hat that there are authentication problems which could be bypassed by malicious app utilising one of these mRST tools.

The issue with Recordable Activator is that it tends to download vulnerable form of TeamViewer as well as abused insecure communication between the app and system-level plugins. App that are signed with OEM certificates are treated as trusted and evade native Android restriction avoiding app like Recordable Activator in obtaining excessive permissions.

It could then be utilised in exploiting the prevailing authentication vulnerability as well as connect with the plugin in order to record whatever is happening on the screen, according to Check Point. Ohad Bobrov, researcher of Check Point, had explained at Black Hat that a malicious app tends to impersonate the original mRST to obtain access to everything on the device.

Tools Pre-installed with No UI

Bobrov stated during a press conference at Black Hat that the reason of this problem was that on several devices, these tools are preinstalled and in many cases since these tools do not have a UI, one is not aware of its existence on the device since one does not see an icon and it is not visible on the device to show that it exists.

Thus it tends to get easier for an attacker to take control of it. Check Point states that to patch up this problem is not easy since the tools which are generally preinstalled, may need manufacturers to push updated ROMs to vulnerable devices. Though new versions of remote support tools like TeamViewer tend to be released, the older versions could still be likely to be in circulation for a while.

He further adds that it would take a long time till a new version comes up though but the more problematic issue is not the bug but its architecture. The vendors and OEMS have signed this vulnerable mRST with their certificate and one cannot withdraw or else the plugin will not function.

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