Yet another Android vulnerability discovered -- bad guys can turn your device into a brick


Say what you want about the restricted nature of Apple's iOS, but I appreciate its security -- it makes me feels safe. Comparatively, Android can feel much less secure. Not only is it fragmented due to carrier and manufacturer reluctance to support long term updates, but we are constantly hearing about vulnerabilities such as the one with Stagefright.

Sadly, we see yet another vulnerability today, and it is quite the bombshell. Respected security company Trend Micro explains that bad guys can turn your device into a brick -- a totally non-functioning state. Not only is this inconvenient, but potentially dangerous (and deadly) too.

"We have discovered a vulnerability in Android that can render a phone apparently dead -- silent, unable to make calls, with a lifeless screen. This vulnerability is present from Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) up to the current version, Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop). Combined, these versions account for more than half of Android devices in use today. No patch has been issued in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code by the Android Engineering Team to fix this vulnerability since we reported it in late May", says Trend Micro.

The company further explains, "the vulnerability lies in the mediaserver service, which is used by Android to index media files that are located on the Android device. This service cannot correctly process a malformed video file using the Matroska container (usually with the .mkv extension). When the process opens a malformed MKV file, the service may crash (and with it, the rest of the operating system). The vulnerability is caused by an integer overflow when the mediaserver service parses an MKV file. It reads memory out of buffer or writes data to NULL address when parsing audio data".

As you can see in the above video, the vulnerability makes it so that the user cannot use the device at all. Remember, smartphones are not only a way to run apps and play games -- they are used to call 911 too. This exploit could impact a user when they need the phone the most, having deadly consequences.

The worst part is that this is affecting many versions of the operating system-- Jellybean 4.3, KitKat and Lollipop -- all the way to 5.1.1. This is a huge amount of users and quite frankly, it is scary.

Even scarier? Trend Micro reported this to Google in May and the search giant merely categorized it as a "low priority". Really Google? This looks extremely high priority to me!

Does this vulnerability make you worry about your Android phone or tablet? Tell me in the comments.

Photo Credit: tulpahn/Shutterstock

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