IBM'S SECURITY PEOPLE have uncovered a problem with Google's Nexus 5X that involves the lockscreen and could allow hackers to siphon off personal information.
The bootloader problem could also facilitate wholesale memory dumps via USB, like a charger.
"A vulnerability in Nexus 5X's bootloader allows an attacker to obtain a full memory dump of the device. The vulnerability can be exploited by physical attackers or by non-physical ones having Android Debug Bridge [ADB] access to the device," said IBM X-Force researchers in a security note.
"One possible scenario where a non-physical attacker can have ADB access is by first targeting an ADB-authorised developer's PC and infecting it with malware. Another way is by using malicious chargers targeting ADB-enabled devices. Using such chargers requires the (naïve) victim to authorise the charger once connected."
'Naïve victim' is probably key here as the user is often part of the security problem, but that is usually to do with password choices. Of course, the user also falls down when it comes to clicking on unsolicited links and opening untrusted attachments.
In this instance, it is naïve Nexus 5X users with Android 6.0 MDA39E through 6.0.1 who are in the risk zone. It's a pretty heavy threat too, according to IBM SecurityIntelligence.
"The attacker reboots the phone into the well-known ‘fastboot' mode, which can be done without any authentication. A physical attacker can do this by pressing the ‘Volume Down' button during device boot," said the firm.
"An attacker with ADB access can do this by issuing the ‘adb reboot bootloader' command. The fastboot mode exposes a USB interface, which on locked devices must not allow any security sensitive operation to be commanded.
"However, what IBM discovered was that if the attacker issued (via the fastboot USB interface) the ‘fastboot oem panic' command, the bootloader would be forced to crash.
"Such a crash caused the bootloader to expose a serial-over-USB connection, which allowed fetching a full memory dump of the device, using tools such as QPST Configuration."
IBM suggested visiting the Google website and downloading the most up to date Nexus software option. µ
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