Android apps still vulnerable to a major bug despite an existing patch

Millions of users at risk from a flaw in the Google Play core library

Thumb touching a phone's screen within the Android App store

Security researchers have found major Android apps used by hundreds of millions of people, such as Grindr, Bumble, OKCupid, Cisco Teams, Moovit, Yango Pro, Edge browser, and many others, are vulnerable to a known flaw that could give attackers access to the app users’ phones and data.

According to research, the security flaw is in Google’s widely used Play core library, which lets developers push in-app updates and new feature modules to their Android apps.  Google fixed the flaw in April 2020, but the app developers must also install the updated Play core library in their apps to eliminate the threat. Many developers have not yet done this.

The Play core library is the app’s runtime interface with the Google Play Store, impacting how an app interacts with Google Play Services. These interactions include dynamic code loading (e.g., downloading additional levels only when needed), delivering locale-specific resources, and interacting with Google Play’s review mechanisms.

Researchers said that if exploited, the flaw could allow a hacker to inject malicious code into a vulnerable application and get access to all the same data that the application has.  For example, it could allow hackers to steal authentication codes or grab users’ credentials from banking apps. A hacker could target vulnerable dating applications to spy on victims or grab the messages they send and receive from the app.

While Google acknowledged and patched the bug on April 6, 2020, rating it an 8.8 out of 10 for severity, developers need to push the patch into their respective applications to mitigate the threat fully. In September 2020, 13% of Google Play applications analyzed by Check Point researchers used the Google Play Core library, and 8% used the vulnerable version.

Aviran Hazum, Check Point’s mobile research manager, said researchers estimated hundreds of millions of Android users are at risk.

“Although Google implemented a patch, many apps are still using outdated Play Core libraries. The vulnerability CVE-2020-8913 is highly dangerous. If a malicious application exploits this vulnerability, it can gain code execution inside popular applications, obtaining the same access as the vulnerable application,” he said. “The attack possibilities here are only limited by a threat actor’s imagination.”

Featured Resources

Choosing a collaboration platform

Eight questions every IT leader should ask

Download now

Performance benchmark: PostgreSQL/ MongoDB

Helping developers choose a database

Download now

Customer service vs. customer experience

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Download now

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security

A complete guide to penetration testing

Download now

Recommended

How to unroot Android
Google Android

How to unroot Android

26 Mar 2021
What is hacktivism?
hacking

What is hacktivism?

22 Apr 2021
HackBoss malware is using Telegram to steal cryptocurrency from other hackers
cryptocurrencies

HackBoss malware is using Telegram to steal cryptocurrency from other hackers

16 Apr 2021
FBI shuts down web shells in hacked Exchange servers
cyber security

FBI shuts down web shells in hacked Exchange servers

14 Apr 2021

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
REvil threatens to release Apple’s hardware schematics
ransomware

REvil threatens to release Apple’s hardware schematics

21 Apr 2021