How Remote Code Execution Compromises Android Security

Scripting a code attack to gain unauthorized access into a third party network is no longer a far-fetched endeavor (it hasn’t been so in years, but things have become a tad too easier now).

Owing to the increasing use of new-age mobile apps, the threat of network intrusion have snowballed into serious possibilities. As Smartphone users, we more often than not find ourselves tempted to install in our phones some third party apps that come from totally unknown sources, and that’s where we put the security of our phones at serious risk. And it is the phenomenon of remote code execution that has been giving sleepless nights to the professionals in app development realm as well as to the general users (even if the term sounds gibberish to them).

How Remote Code Execution Snowballs into a Crisis
When certain individuals get to run their custom-created codes on your phone without your permission, you know the information stored in the phone is vulnerable to interception. Now, this might be a result of you installing an app from a questionable source or you rooting your device, but whichever way they come, they sure prove to be nasty burns.

It Creates an Environment Infected with Security Dangers
Once the malicious coders get the wherewithal to remotely inject and manipulate codes within your reliable Android app development platform, they can wreck havoc with not just your device, but with that of anyone you are connected to over a network or are sharing emails and files with through the Internet.

Android 4.2 Tried to Fix it
Oh yes they attempted to fix it, and succeeded to an extent. The Javascript vulnerability was carefully addressed but not in a manner where the fix would take along all the scenarios. Experts have continually observed and scanned a truckload of APK files from Google store and have come up with a revelation that more than 10% of them are vulnerable to security attacks – and that’s a pretty staggering figure when you convert that into numbers.


But that’s not the end of the woes. It has also been observed that many people still use the pre-4.2 version of Android, so the fixes made in the 4.2 version are not available to them.

Remote Code Execution Means a Free Rein Over the Device
If you are under the impression that the threat is restricted to the context of the app, you are mistaken. The remote code execution also enables these coders to change the permissions that are preset by the system. This gives them a greater access to your device and they can delve further to doctor your phone’s operation to suit their malicious sensibilities.

Now, the above sermon is not base don assumptions only. There have been studies done over as many as 102,000 app from the play store and it has been found out that close to 13 percent of them have backdoors. And here is how you can test the app’s vulnerability:

function findVulnerableObject() {
for (var prop in window) {
try {
// If getClass() doesn’t throw, the object is vulnerable
window[prop].getClass();
return window[prop];
}
catch(err) { }
}
return null;
}

The above Javascript usually employed by Top Android App Developers is injected to find out the objects that are prone to being attacked. It was also found out that ads were the biggest culprits when making your app vulnerable to security attack.

These ad frameworks call the addJavascriptInterface in an insecure manner, thus leading to serious security issues.

Using some proxy techniques can be an easy enough technique to diminish the security levels of an Android device. On your part, you can avoid using apps that keep displaying advertisements whenever you are on a network you can’t rely upon.

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