Android Hit by Linux TCP Flaw

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 @ 01:08 PM gHale


An issue found in the Linux kernel’s implementation of the TCP protocol also affects a large portion of the Android ecosystem, researchers said.

The Linux TCP bug (CVE-2016-5696) affects around 80 percent of all Android devices in use today, which is around 1.4 billion devices, said researchers at security provider Lookout. The reason for this is because the Android OS is built on a modified version of the Linux kernel.

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The Linux Foundation has already taken all the steps to mitigate this security flaw, having patched the Linux kernel July 11.

The bug allows an attacker who is not in a man-in-the-middle position to probe servers or users for active connections and then guess the packet sequence, a Lookout report said.

This enables the attacker to enter the packet flow between two parties, sniff on unencrypted traffic, or shut down encrypted connections. All Linux kernel versions between v3.6 and up to v4.7 are vulnerable.

The first vulnerable version that featured this TCP implementation flaw, version 3.6, released in 2012 and also was a part of the Android OS 4.4 (KitKat).

Since security researchers disclosed the flaw last week, Google has not released any security patches. Google usually releases security patches at the start of each month, but it is highly unlikely the Android OS would feature a security patch for such a massive feature like the TCP stack just after a few weeks.

Even if security vendors have not discovered any weaponized exploit utilizing this flaw, Lookout said all users should protect themselves by encrypting their traffic.

Users can do this by using encrypted apps, navigating sites via their HTTPS versions, or by employing a VPN.