Android phones vulnerable to Qualcomm bugs

Security researchers from Tencent’s Blade Team are warning smartphone and tablet users of flaws in chipsets, called QualPwn. The collectively allow to compromise Android devices remotely simply by sending malicious packets over-the-air no user interaction required.

Three bugs make up QualPwn (CVE-2019-10539, CVE-2019-10540 and CVE-2019-10538). The prerequisite for the attack is that both the attacker and targeted Android device must be active on the same shared Wi-Fi network.

“One of the vulnerabilities allows attackers to compromise the WLAN and modem, over-the-air. The other allows attackers to compromise the Android kernel from the WLAN chip. The full exploit chain allows attackers to compromise the Android kernel over-the-air in some circumstances,” wrote researchers.

All three vulnerabilities have been reported to Qualcomm and Google’s Android security team and patches are available for handsets. “We have not found this vulnerability to have a public full exploit code,” according to a brief public disclosure of the flaws by the Tencent Blade Team.

Researchers said their focus was on Google Pixel2 and Pixel3 handsets and that its tests indicated that unpatched running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Snapdragon 845 chips may be vulnerable.

A Qualcomm spokesperson told Threatpost in a statement: “Providing technologies that support robust security and privacy is a priority for Qualcomm. We commend the security researchers from Tencent for using industry-standard coordinated disclosure practices through our Vulnerability Rewards Program. Qualcomm Technologies has already issued fixes to OEMs, and we encourage end users to update their devices as patches become available from OEMs.”

The first bug (CVE-2019-10539) is identified by researchers as a “buffer copy without checking size of input in WLAN.” Qualcomm describes it as a “possible buffer overflow issue due to lack of length check when parsing the extended cap IE header length.”

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