Sad and disturbing news for today! Cybersecurity researchers discovered flaws in Qualcomm chip that made hundreds of millions of devices, especially Android smartphones and tablets, vulnerable to a new set of potentially serious risks and data loss.
The newly released cybersecurity report shows that these flaws could allow hackers to steal sensitive data stored in a secure area that is otherwise supposed to be the most protected part of a mobile device.
What is affected?
All the vulnerabilities affect Qualcomm’s Secure Execution Environment (QSEE), an implementation of the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) based on ARM TrustZone technology.
This environment is also known as Qualcomm’s Secure World or QSEE.
Researchers describe it as a hardware-isolated secure area on the main processor that aims to protect sensitive information and provides a separate secure environment (REE) for executing Trusted Applications.
How dangerous those flaws are?
Everyone using a Qualcomm chip is in greave danger cybersecurity researchers say! This is because this chip contains personal information, private encryption keys, passwords, credit, and debit card credentials. Basically, if a hacker exploits those flaws every precious data of yours will be gone.
Why the flaw exists?
A short history of the affected environment:
Researchers explain that this flaw exists because the whole system is based on the principle of least privilege.
Hackers managed to reverse Qualcomm’s Secure World operating system and leveraged the fuzzing technique to expose it
Cyber attack model:
Hackers are using a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, Motorola devices; this allowed hackers to exploit four vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung, one in Motorola and one in LG.
If a hacker exploits any of the above vulnerabilities it will can:
execute trusted apps in the Normal World
load patched trusted app into the Secure World (QSEE),
bypassing Qualcomm’s Chain Of Trust,
adapt the trusted app for running on a device of another manufacturer,
steal any kind of data from the device
Researchers were surprised to find out that hackers can also load trustlets from another device as well. This can be done by replacing the hash table, signature, and certificate chain in the .mdt file of the trustlet with those extracted from a device manufacturer’s trustlet.
Researchers disclosed their findings to all affected vendors. Now all users that have Qualcomm based devices need to update their systems as soon as possible in order to stay safe and secured.
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The vulnerabilities present in TEE component leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats, including the leakage of protected data, device rooting, bootloader unlocking, and execution of undetectable APT.
The vulnerabilities also affect a wide range of smartphone and IoT devices that use the QSEE component to secure users’ sensitive information.