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Android hole could be used to disable antivirus apps

Researchers to present findings on vulnerabilities in Android at Hack in the Box Security Conference next week.


Researchers say they have uncovered vulnerabilities in a "popular" component of Android that is used by antivirus and other apps that could be exploited to do things like disable the apps.

A malicious app could be created to turn off the antivirus so an attacker could infect the phone with malware and in some cases the same weakness could be used to compromise the antivirus app itself, said Riley Hassell, founder of Privateer Labs, in a recent briefing.

Privateer co-founder Shane Macaulay uncovered the vulnerabilities but had not found any attacks exploiting them in the wild. Hassell declined to reveal details about the vulnerabilities.

"We're working with top (antivirus) vendors to come up with a solution," Hassell said. "There's a way for them to...accomplish the same task without them having to utilize this component."

Google representatives did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Hassell and Macaulay are scheduled to present their findings, including a potential workaround, at the Hack in the Box Security Conference in Malaysia next week.

Unlike Apple, which vets iPhone applications before they are available for download from the Apps Store, Google does not do security checks on the apps but provides information about permissions that are granted to the programs by default when installing them. Android users are encouraged to read the permissions carefully and download apps only from trusted and reputable developers.