Strandhogg Android Security Bug Allows Hackers to Access Almost all Apps
A security flaw (CVE-2020-0096) affecting Android operating systems lets malicious apps masquerade as other apps leaving devices vulnerable to hackers. The flaw, named Strandhogg 2.0, affects all versions of Android according to cyber security researchers at Promon. When exploited, the flaw can be used to hijack multiple apps at one time. All versions of Android operating systems, except Android 10, on 1 Billion devices are affected.
Strandhogg 2.0 is an upgrade by its creators. The first iteration of Strandhogg exploited Android’s multitasking ability to hijack apps. But it made the exploitation easy to detect. The code-based execution of Strandhogg 2.0 allows it to remain hidden.
When exploited, Android users are tricked into thinking they are using a legitimate app installed on their phone, but instead they are being redirected to a fake interface controlled by the hacker. When the user inputs login credentials or payment card information, the sensitive data is exfiltrated to the hacker. The user is none the wiser and believes they are using the legitimate app.
The security flaw is classified as a critical severity in the National Vulnerability Database of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures. CVE-2020-0096 states there is a there is a possible escalation of privilege making this variation of Strandhogg more dangerous than its predecessor.
The original Strandhogg took advantage of the multitasking feature of Android. When exploited, the Strandhogg flaw could steal bank credentials and other account logins from legitimate apps installed on a device. But it could only do that one app at a time. When the first Strandhogg surfaced, there were already 36 malicious apps using the exploit to steal information from phones.
“Strandhogg 2.0 is executed through reflection, allowing malicious apps to freely assume the identity of legitimate apps while also remaining completely hidden,” says a report from Promon. The exploit affects all versions of the Android Operating system except version 10. But according to Google, 91.8% of Android active users worldwide are on version 9.0 or earlier as of April 2020.
The report states that, “StrandHogg 2.0, being the more cunning twin, has learned how to, with the correct per-app tailored assets, dynamically attack nearly any app on a given device simultaneously at the touch of a button, unlike StrandHogg which can only attack apps one at a time.”
How the Exploit Works
When a user taps the icon of a legitimate app installed on their mobile device, hacker malware that exploit the Strandhogg vulnerability intercepts the users input and takes the user to a fake ap interface instead of launching the legitimate app. All data the user enters into the fraudulent interface is intercepted by the hacker.
What Does the Strandhogg Flaw Do to My Device?
When exploited by hackers the Strandhogg flaw intercept any activity on an Android device.
- Listen to conversations using the device’s microphone
- Access the camera
- Read and send SMS messages
- Make and/or record phone conversations
- Phish login credentials
- Access to all photos and files
- Get your GPS location information
- Steal phone contacts
Strandhogg – How Do I Secure My Device?
Google pushed a security patch to partners in May
- Users need to update Android devices to the latest firmware
- App developers must distribute apps with appropriate security measures
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers