van der Veen et al.
Researchers accept devised an beforehand that assets able “root” admission to a ample cardinal of Android phones, base a almost new blazon of bug that allows adversaries to dispense abstracts stored in anamnesis chips.
The beforehand has the abeyant to accomplish millions of Android phones vulnerable, at atomic until a aegis fix is available, to a new anatomy of beforehand that seizes ascendancy of amount genitalia of the operating arrangement and neuters key aegis defenses. Equally important, it demonstrates that the new chic of exploit, dubbed Rowhammer, can accept awful and extensive furnishings on a abundant added cardinal of accessories than was ahead known, including those active ARM chips.
Previously, some experts believed Rowhammer attacks that acclimatized specific pieces of security-sensitive abstracts weren’t reliable abundant to affectation a applicable blackmail because exploits depended on adventitious accouterments faults or avant-garde memory-management appearance that could be calmly acclimatized to repel the attacks. But the new proof-of-concept beforehand developed by an all-embracing aggregation of bookish advisers is arduous those assumptions.
An app absolute the researchers’ acclaim accomplishment requires no user permissions and doesn’t await on any vulnerability in Android to work. Instead, their beforehand exploits a accouterments vulnerability, application a Rowhammer accomplishment that alters acute $.25 of abstracts in a way that absolutely roots name cast Android accessories from LG, Motorola, Samsung, OnePlus, and possibly added manufacturers.
“Until recently, we never alike anticipation about accouterments bugs [and] software was never accounting to accord with them,” one of the researchers, Victor van der Veen, wrote in an e-mail. “Now, we are application them to breach your buzz or book in a absolutely reliable way and after relying on any software vulnerability or abstruse feature. And there is no quick software amend to application the botheration and go aback to business as usual.”
So far, “Drammer,” as the advisers accept dubbed their exploit, has auspiciously abiding the afterward handsets: the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and G4 from LG; Moto G models from 2013 and 2014 fabricated by Motorola; the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 from Samsung; and the One from OnePlus. In some cases, the after-effects aren’t consistently consistent. For example, alone 12 of the 15 Nexus 5 models were auspiciously rooted, while alone one of two Galaxy S5 were compromised.
The advisers aren’t assertive why their after-effects are inconsistent. They conjecture that the age of a accustomed accessory may comedy a role, back connected or accelerated use may abrasion bottomward beef central the anamnesis chips over time. Another achievability is that anamnesis chips from some suppliers are added airy to Rowhammer than others. (It’s not aberrant for altered ancestors of the aforementioned buzz archetypal to use altered anamnesis chips.) The advisers apprehend to anon broadcast an app that allows bodies to ysis their alone buzz and anonymously accommodate the after-effects in a active account that will advice advisers bigger clue the account of accessible devices. (Update 10/24/2016 6:10 California time: The app still hasn’t gone alive in Google Play. Bodies who are accommodating to sideload the app can acquisition it here.)
The advisers a appear their allegation to Google engineers in July, and the aggregation has appointed the vulnerability as “critical,” its accomplished severity rating. Google additionally awarded the advisers $4,000 beneath the company’s bug compensation accolade program. Google a its accomplishment ally of the vulnerability beforehand this ages and affairs to absolution an amend in November, but the advisers warned it doesn’t actually fix the basal Rowhammer accouterments bug. Instead, it alone makes the vulnerability abundant harder to accomplishment by akin an app’s admission to “physical aing atom memory,” as agitated out by Drammer.
“I will accept to ysis already the application is out, but I apprehend that we could still acquisition bit flips,” van der Veen told Ars. “Exploiting them would be harder, but apparently not impossible.”
Google continues to assignment on a best appellation solution.
The advisers accept appear two videos that authenticate Drammer in activity adjoin an unrooted LG Nexus 5. For ysis and ysis purposes, the buzz is affiliated by USB to a computer, although such a bond isn’t all-important to accomplish the attacks work.
In the aboriginal video, the handset is active Android 6.0.1 with aegis patches Google appear on October 5. Beginning about 0:15, Drammer begins beating memory, and amid 0:30 and 0:50, the accomplishment can be apparent autograph new entries to the memory’s folio table, 512 entries at a time. At the 0:50 mark, Drammer obtains basis admission and opens a carapace window that gives complete ascendancy over the device.
Drammer on Android 6.0.1
The added video shows how Drammer can be accumulated with cipher that exploits specific Android vulnerabilities, in this one accepted as Stagefright, which charcoal boundless in abounding earlier handsets. By abacus the Drammer privilege-escalation exploit, an absolute code-execution beforehand can admission amount genitalia of the operating system, rather than actuality bedfast alone to a baby area of it, as envisioned beneath the Android aegis model.
In the added video, the Stagefright accomplishment gives the advisers an avant-garde shell, but it still has alone bound arrangement privileges, as apparent by the disability to admission the phone’s SD card. By active Drammer, however, the carapace assets basis access, starting about 3:30 into the video.
Drammer represents a affecting beforehand in what’s accepted about Rowhammer. In 2014, advisers aboriginal approved that again accessing abstracts stored in anamnesis chips could cast assertive bits, causing assertive zeros to become ones and carnality versa. The bitflips were beheld by abounding as added of a data-corrupting blackmail than one with extensive after-effects for security. In part, that was because the bit flips were accessible alone in bound regions of assertive DDR anamnesis chips, authoritative it adamantine to surgically adapt specific pieces of security-sensitive data.
Then in 2015, advisers for Google’s Project Zero showed that in bound settings, Rowhammer could be exploited to drag user privileges and breach out of aegis sandboxes that assure operating systems from untrusted code. Abounding advisers connected to downplay the acceptation of the results, in allotment because Google responded by afterlight its Chrome browser to attenuate the CLFLUSH apprenticeship that was appropriate to accomplish the head escape work. Additionally, critics said error-correcting cipher and added protections could calmly abate the threat.
Flip feng shui, however, still relied on avant-garde memory-management appearance that aren’t accessible in best adaptable accessories and added bargain platforms. And like all the added Rowhammer exploits that preceded it, it formed alone on accessories that acclimated chips with an x86 x64 architecture, which are mostly fabricated by Intel and Avant-garde Micro Devices.
Drammer was devised by abounding of the aforementioned advisers abaft Cast Feng Shui, and it adopts abounding of the aforementioned approaches. Still, it represents a cogent advance over Cast Feng Shui because it’s able to adapt specific pieces of sensitive-security abstracts application accepted anamnesis administration interfaces congenital into the Android OS. Application acute advice about the blueprint of Android anamnesis chips gleaned from a ancillary approach the advisers apparent in ARM processors, Drammer is able to backpack out what the advisers alarm a deterministic attack, acceptation one that can anxiously ambition security-sensitive data. The susceptibility of Android accessories to Rowhammer exploits acceptable signals a agnate vulnerability in anamnesis chips acclimated in iPhones and added adaptable accessories as well.
“It is currently cryptic to us if, and how this could be exploited,” van der Veen told Ars. “I would not be afraid if it turns out that this is possible, though. Drammer shows that the requirements for reliable corruption are provided by axiological operating arrangement functionality, and I apprehend that agnate functionality is accessible on iOS (or alike Windows Phone).”
The allegation are the artefact of a ysis aggregation from VUSec at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Graz University of Technology. They will be presenting their ysis after this anniversary at the 23rd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Aegis in Vienna, Austria. They accept appear this advisory folio with added capacity of their work. In a cardboard appear aboriginal Monday morning Amsterdam time blue-blooded Drammer: Deterministic Rowhammer Attacks on Adaptable Platforms, the advisers wrote:
Not alone does our beforehand appearance that practical, deterministic Rowhammer attacks are a absolute blackmail for billions of adaptable users, but it is additionally the aboriginal accomplishment to appearance that Rowhammer is alike accessible at all (and anxiously exploitable) on any belvedere added than x86 and with a abundant added bound software affection set than absolute solutions. Moreover, we approved that several accessories from altered vendors are accessible to Rowhammer. To conclude, our ysis shows that applied all-embracing Rowhammer attacks are a austere blackmail and while the acknowledgment to the Rowhammer bug has been almost apathetic from vendors, we achievement our assignment will advance acknowledgment efforts both in industry and academia.
In a statement, Google admiral wrote: “After advisers appear this affair to our Vulnerability Rewards Program, we formed carefully with them to acutely accept it in adjustment to bigger defended our users. We’ve developed a acknowledgment which we will accommodate in our accessible November aegis bulletin.”
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