Two serious vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon system-on-a-chip (SoC) WLAN firmware could be leveraged to compromise the modem and the Android kernel over the air.
The flaws were found in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and 845 WLAN component. The tests were made on Google Pixel 2 and 3 but any unpatched phone running one of the two SoCs is vulnerable.
Critical and high-severity bugs
Security researchers from Tencent’s Blade team found that one one of the vulnerabilities (CVE-2019-10538, with a high severity rating) allows attackers to compromise the WLAN and the chip’s modem over-the-air.
The second one is a buffer overflow tracked as CVE-2019-10540; it received a critical severity rating and an attacker can exploit it to compromise the Android Kernel from the WLAN component.
The researchers informed both Google and Qualcomm about the flaws and exploitation is currently possible only on Android phones that have not been patched with the latest security updates that rolled out today.
Qualcomm on June 3 published a security bulletin to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to allow them to prepare the Android update for their devices.
The chip maker advises “end users to update their devices as patches become available from OEMs.”
Despite patches being available, a high number of phones is likely to remain vulnerable for a long time as the devices may no longer be eligible for updates from the vendor.
Also, not all makers are ready to push the Android update when Google releases it. It is common to see security updates for phones still supported by their maker reach devices with weeks of delay.