A group of university researchers discovered a vulnerability affecting every Android device since 2012 and even some Apple devices.
Dubbed RAMpage , the vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-9442, is a variation of the Rowhammer attack and is caused by a hardware bug in memory cards.
If exploited, an attacker can gain full control of a device allowing them to obtain stored passwords, personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.
“RAMpage breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system,” researchers said. “While apps are typically not permitted to read data from other apps, a malicious program can craft a RAMpage exploit to get administrative control and get hold of secrets stored in the device.”
The attack targets Android’s ION subsystem which manages memory allocations between apps and for the OS. An attack targeting this system allows a threat actor to circumvent the boundaries that exist between Android apps and the underlying OS giving the attacker full control of the data.
The works on Android smartphones and tablets and possibly even some Apple products or other personal computers on the cloud.
The researchers offered their own solution named Guardion which claim is a defense to mitigate the attacks. Researchers said they have reached out to Google about the vulnerability but added that Google concluded that Guardion results in more “performance overhead” on real-world apps than what the researchers reported in their paper.