New Android Bluetooth Flaw Allows Code Execution Without User Involvement, Patch Now

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Android users need to apply the latest round of security updates to their devices as one of them is meant to address a critical vulnerability in the Bluetooth subsystem. The flaw is known as CVE-2020-0022, and when exploited, it could allow arbitrary code to be run on the device with the elevated privileges of the Bluetooth daemon when the wireless module is active. A security update released on Monday addressed this flaw.

CVE-2020-0022 was discovered and reported by the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Secure Mobile Networking Lab, and is considered critical on Android Oreo 8.0 and 8.1 as well as Android Pie 9.0. Attackers could leverage CVE-2020-0022 to spread malware from one vulnerable device to another like a worm.

One caveat to the exploit is that it is limited to the short distances covered by Bluetooth. Taking advantage of the issue only requires that the attacker knows the Bluetooth MAC address for the device, which the researchers say isn’t hard to find. For some devices, the address can be deduced from the WiFi Mac address.

While the CVE-2020-0022 impacts Android 10, the severity rating is moderate because it doesn’t cause a crash in the Bluetooth daemon. Researchers do warn that the exploit may also impact Android versions before 8.0, but the severity hasn’t been assessed at this time. A proof-of-concept attack will be published later, along with the technical details. The researchers are not disclosing the findings at this time because of the severity of the issue.

The researchers note that while a patch is available, OEMs and mobile carriers have to push it to users, and it can take weeks for the update to roll out. They suggest enabling Bluetooth only when necessary until the fix is rolled out and to keep the device non-discoverable, which is a feature that hides it from other gadgets that want to pair.

In other Android news, the Android devices that are subsidized by the government for low income individuals have been found to be riddled with malware.