Not too long ago, the Android ecosystem was incredibly vulnerable to the Dirty Cow exploit. This method of attack had been around for more than a decade as part of Linux, which Android is based on. Now that this vulnerability has been finally fixed, things are looking positive for Android users. But the number of threats has not decreased by any means.
A Late Patch For Dirty Cow is Better Than No Patch
The Dirty Cow exploit was fixed in Linux’s kernel back in October of 2016. Despite Android being derived from Linux, it took nearly two months longer to get the vulnerability fixed for mobile users. Google released a security patch to address this problem, as well as eleven other critical vulnerabilities that affected the ecosystem.
To be more precise, Google attempted to address Dirty Cow in their firmware upgrade for Nexus and Pixel devices last month. Samsung released their own security update in November, which took care of this problem as well. But the rest of the world was left in the cold, which doesn’t sit well with most Android enthusiasts.
Thankfully, these security concerns have now been officially addressed, and Android users can breathe a sigh of relief. Dirty Cow allowed assailants to receive root privileges on an infected device, which opens up a colossal can of worms with consequences that are practically impossible to oversee. Several Android users have been affected by this “hack,” although no widespread damage has been done in the process.
What is rather worrisome is how Dirty Cow is just one of twelve critical vulnerabilities plaguing the Android ecosystem to be fixed. Although the most commonly used mobile OS is subject to attacks from all sides, one is never sure how many attack vectors are in existence. Google is keeping a close eye on these things, but it takes time to develop security solutions and make them accessible to all users.
Looking over the specific information for these critical vulnerabilities, half of them seem to target NVIDIA GPU and other video drivers. Although these bugs were only persistent on Nexus 9 devices, the Pixel C could be affected by the video driver flaws as well. None of these updates are publicly available, yet they are contained in the binary drivers of the latest Google devices.
Qualcomm components remain a head scratcher for security experts throughout 2016. Multiple updates for this hardware have been undertaken earlier this year, yet new vulnerabilities had to be patched by Google. Quadrooter is perhaps the most important weakness that needed to be addressed, as it put hundreds of millions of devices at risk.
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