Google released a fix Tuesday for the "Master Key" vulnerability that could open up 99 percent of all Android applications to the danger of becoming undetected Trojans. The vulnerability, revealed last week by security firm Bluebox Security, could affect almost 900 million devices.
Google said the fix has gone to OEMs for their Android releases. The vulnerability could allow a hack to avoid the unique cryptographic signature of each application, which is supposed to reflect whether an app has been hacked. The Master Key exploit does its infiltration without any impact on the cryptographic signature.
The vulnerability appears to have been around since the release of Android 1.6, which was released about four years ago. Google's Android Communications Manager Gina Scigliano told news media that some of the OEM partners, like Samsung, as "already shipping the fix to the Android devices."
No Evidence Yet
Scigliano added that Google has not seen "any evidence" of the Master Key hack being exploited in Google Play or other app stores, as seen in results of the company's security scanning tools.
Android's besieged position is a result of its success. As the most popular mobile platform -- research firm Canalys estimates it was on nearly 60 percent of all smart mobile devices sold in Q1 -- it has become the target of choice for individual hackers and criminal rings. Juniper Networks, for instance, has reported that, as of March, an astounding 92 percent of all mobile malware threats were directed at Android devices.
Additionally, although it is Google-driven, the OS is open source and device makers or others are free to modify it, which could open up other vulnerabilities and complicate paths for issuing fixes.
Last week, Bluebox Security's research team announced the vulnerability, which they said would be "completely unnoticed" by an app store, the device or the user. In a posting on the Bluebox blog, CTO Jeff Forristal described the implications as being "huge," and said the Trojan could be exploited for anything, including data theft, access into an enterprise network , creation of a mobile botnet or a takeover of any function on a phone or other device.
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