A new security flaw has been discovered within the Android operating system that affects devices made by several major manufacturers.
Global security vendor Check Point disovered the vulnerability and disclosed its findings during a briefing session at Black Hat USA 2015 in Las Vegas.
The company says the flaw afffects devices from Samsung, LG, HTC and ZTE.
Certifi-gate is a vulnerability that allows applications to gain illegitimate privileged access rights that are typically used by remote support applications that are either pre-installed or personally installed on the device, Check Point explains. Attackers can exploit Certifi-gate to gain unrestricted device access, allowing them to steal personal data, track device locations, turn on microphones to record conversations, and more.
The security firm says Android offers no way to revoke the certificates that are providing privileged permissions. Left unpatched, and with no reasonable workaround, devices are exposed right out of the box, it says.
"Every day, people around the globe use mobile devices to manage important aspects of their lives: they access work email, manage bank accounts, and track health information," says Dorit Dor, vice president of products at Check Point Software Technologies.
"The problem is, they rarely stop to think about whether their data is secure,” Dor says.
“This vulnerability is very easily exploited, and can lead to the loss and dissemination of a user’s personal data. It’s time to take mobile security seriously."
All affected vendors were notified by Check Point about Certifi-gate and have begun releasing updates.
Dor says the vulnerability cannot be fixed, and can only be updated when a new software build is pushed to the device – a notoriously slow process, he says. “Android also offers no way to revoke certificates used to sign vulnerable plugins.”
Android users can check to see if their device is vulnerable to Certifi-gate by downloading a free Check Point Certfi-gate scanner app in Google Play.
Check Point today launched Check Point Mobile Threat Prevention, a new mobile security solution enterprises can use to battle the evolving mobile threat environment and to detect threats such as Certifi-gate, malicious apps, and Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
“With the highest level of security for stopping threats on iOS and Android, the solution delivers real-time visibility and threat intelligence into an organisation’s existing security and mobility infrastructures,” Dor explains.
“Deployment is easy and not only has integration into an organisation’s mobility and security infrastructure but it also provides a transparent user experience that maintains privacy and performance.”