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99% of Android Phones Vulnerable to Data Leak; Google Working on Quick Fix

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 46 comments

Beware of evil twin Wi-Fi.

Researchers in Germany have uncovered a security flaw in Android. Frighteningly, 99 percent of Android users are presently affected, as the flaw hits users who are presently on any version of the OS lower than the most recent 2.3.4 – So basically anyone who doesn't have an updated Nexus One or Nexus S.

The security flaw is from a lack of secure connection between Android and Google's authentication system. When a user submits login credentials for Calendar or Contacts, Google returns an authentication token that's sent over HTTP. That token can be used for 14 days for access to a user account.

This problem doesn't affect Android versions 3.0 or 2.3.4 as much as it does all the versions before it, as they use HTTPS for Calendar and Contacts. Picasa, however, remains transmitted insecurely.

Researchers say that hackers can easy extract this information from an Android phone through the use of a fake, "dummy" wireless network that a user's phone would try to connect itself to.

To collect such authTokens on a large scale an adversary could setup a wifi access point with a common SSID (evil twin) of an unencrypted wireless network, e.g., T-Mobile, attwifi, starbucks. With default settings, Android phones automatically connect to a previously known network and many apps will attempt syncing immediately. While syncing would fail (unless the adversary forwards the requests), the adversary would capture authTokens for each service that attempted syncing. Due to the long lifetime of authTokens, the adversary can comfortably capture a large number of tokens and make use of them later on from a different location.

This oversight is a huge problem as the vast majority of Android devices don't have the immediate access to new versions like the Nexus phones do. Fortunately, Google is able to implement a server side fix that should patch things up for Calendar and Contacts on all Android versions, though Picasa is still a question mark.

Reported by Computerworld, Google's official statement is:

Today we're starting to roll out a fix which addresses a potential security flaw that could, under certain circumstances, allow a third party access to data available in calendar and contacts. This fix requires no action from users and will roll out globally over the next few days.

(Get apps for your Android OS smartphone from our downloads section)

Display 46 Comments.
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  • -1 Hide
    proton9 , May 19, 2011 8:45 AM
    owned
  • 1 Hide
    ThisIsMe , May 19, 2011 9:15 AM
    Don't get me wrong. It's good that they discovered this before anything serious could come of it. But, this is just the latest example of how every OS brand has it's own flaws to deal with. Take that all you finger pointers and name namers!

    In other news: Today Company X failed to imagine this one scenario that left users vulnerable when this one thing that COULD happen if some bad people thought of this one way to steal from someone else while the end user was using this one feature in a specific manner. It's a good thing this one guy, out of 6 billion (6,000,000,000) people, that doesn't work for Company X imagined this could happen before some bad guy did. Say it with me now... "SHAME ON COMPANY X FOR HAVING A LACK OF IMAGINATION!"

    Yeah... Everyone fails sometimes. It's how we deal with it that proves who we really are.
  • 0 Hide
    ThisIsMe , May 19, 2011 9:24 AM
    FYI
    That was not a shot at Tom's in any way. I think it's good that people know about the issue so they can take steps to prevent any problems for themselves. I was only poking fun at the aforementioned folks in the first part of what I typed.
  • 4 Hide
    memadmax , May 19, 2011 9:26 AM
    lol, thats the cloud for ya...
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , May 19, 2011 10:06 AM
    This game will continue until those convicted of "playing" it get to hear a loud fail horn and see
    "GAME OVER" in bright lights just before someone ruins their day with a single large caliber round to the head.
  • -1 Hide
    Kryan , May 19, 2011 10:21 AM
    one of the best comments I've ever read here, ThisIsMe. +10 to you, sir, and a Green Thumbs Up (if they worked).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2011 10:31 AM
    Exactly. The Android loonatics that laughed when this happened to WP7 last year seem pretty quiet in this thread - I wonder why that is.

    This sort of thing happens to every OS - none are immune.
  • -5 Hide
    brianfulcher15 , May 19, 2011 12:01 PM
    droid is still greater than iphone..

    you shouldnet store passwords anyways...
  • 1 Hide
    nebun , May 19, 2011 12:14 PM
    lol...what's new...google and security? you have got to be kidding me, lol
  • 1 Hide
    Tedders , May 19, 2011 12:18 PM
    brianfulcher15droid is still greater than iphone..you shouldnet store passwords anyways...

    This isn't about storing passwords. You have to access your stuff by typing a username and password. No way around that. When you do that on an unsecured network and happen to use HTTP instead of HTTPS, that's what could happen.
  • 1 Hide
    adobejesus , May 19, 2011 12:26 PM
    Quote:
    So basically anyone who doesn't have an updated Nexus One or Nexus S.


    ...Or unless you are running a HTC Incredible with a Gingerbread rom running Android 2.3.4

    =]
  • 1 Hide
    wcnighthawk , May 19, 2011 12:55 PM
    Man, won't Google stop "torturing" it's users already. Sheesh :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2011 12:58 PM
    Come on Google, this is not good enough!
  • 3 Hide
    watcha , May 19, 2011 1:06 PM
    I wonder how different the reaction would be if this MASSIVE failure on Google's part leaving EVERY user vulnerable while using public Wifi has been done by Apple...

    Just shows that the objectivity is severely lacking with the apple-haters.
  • 0 Hide
    scook9 , May 19, 2011 1:09 PM
    Wonder if this was the security fix implemented in Cyanogenmod 7.0.3
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2011 1:14 PM
    watchaI wonder how different the reaction would be if this MASSIVE failure on Google's part leaving EVERY user vulnerable while using public Wifi has been done by Apple...Just shows that the objectivity is severely lacking with the apple-haters.


    Seriously, come on get real!

    Google do stuff for FREE!!!!!!! for every individual in the world, for FREEEEE!!!!!!!

    Apple charge a massive premium for every single product they sell !!!!!!!!!

    Jobs SUCKS!!!!!!!

    Ever stopped to wonder why there are so many APPLE HATERS?

    Thought not!
  • 1 Hide
    macewrox , May 19, 2011 1:27 PM
    Apple: Hey we have a new product for you.
    Applelover: Oh yeah?! What's new about it?
    Apple: Don't worry about that. It's new.
    Applelover: What? Oh okay.
    Apple: You don't want to be left in the past now do you? Come on..
    Applelover: How much?
    Apple: How much you got?
    Applelover: My life savings.
    Apple: I'll take it.
  • 1 Hide
    molo9000 , May 19, 2011 1:39 PM
    moriconGoogle do stuff for FREE!!!!!!! for every individual in the world, for FREEEEE!!!!!!!

    Is that why they made 8.5billion dollars profit last year? Google has a higher profit margin than Apple ffs!
  • -1 Hide
    MeanSquare , May 19, 2011 1:46 PM
    I can't imagine a better response from Google. They roll out a quick fix as soon as they're aware that there's a problem. What more could one expect? (I know, one could expect perfection as Thisisme already pointed out so well.)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 19, 2011 1:54 PM
    molo9000Is that why they made 8.5billion dollars profit last year? Google has a higher profit margin than Apple ffs!


    Umm one word ADVERTISING!!!!!!!!

    You do not pay, advertising pays! You search or e-mail or browse for FREE FFS!
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