Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

New Android 'Toast' Vuln Makes Overlay Attacks Easier

The vast majority of Android devices are at risk of a 'Toast' overlay attack that builds on Cloak and Dagger exploits. The bug could lead to remote control of the device unless Google's latest security patch is applied.

A high-severity vulnerability in Android's "Toast" feature is putting users at risk of an overlay attack, which could ultimately result in the remote commandeering of their device.

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 researchers discovered the vulnerability, which affects all versions of Android except its recently released Android 8.0 Oreo operating system. Android users, however, can apply Google's September 2017 Android Security Bulletin to patch the vulnerability, Palo Alto Networks advises.

The vulnerability can potentially affect hundreds of millions of devices, if not billions, if not patched. In the first quarter alone, 327 million Android smartphones were shipped worldwide, according to a Gartner report.

"This new vulnerability expands the possible scope of the possible attacks significantly," says Christopher Budd, senior threat communications manager for Palo Alto Networks.

The Android Toast vulnerability makes it easier for cybercriminals to launch an Android overlay attack, like the Cloak and Dagger exploit demonstrated earlier this year.

Android's Toast feature allows notifications to pop up in a window and lays them across a user's screen over other apps. But attackers can abuse Toast's accessibility system and remotely install malware, steal user data, deploy ransomware, and engage in other nefarious activities that require control of the device, Budd says.

Overlay attacks are nothing new, but the Toast vulnerability eliminates two difficult challenges that were required in a Cloak and Dagger exploit, says Budd.

An overlay attack entails laying a bogus app on top of a malicious app. When users take action on the bogus app, such as clicking an "ok" button or the "next" button, they are actually clicking through to the malicious app underneath and enabling permissions for that nefarious app.

In order to perform a Cloak and Dagger exploit, attackers would face the challenge of getting their malicious apps on Google Play and, once downloaded, users would need to give their permission for the app to put a dialog box on the screen atop of other apps for pop-up alerts, says Budd.

But the Toast vulnerability allows attackers to forgo these steps, allowing them to get their malicious overlay apps installed from sites other than Google Play.

Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable CISOs and IT security experts in a setting that is conducive to interaction and conversation. Click for more info and to register.

The Unit 42 researchers discovered the vulnerability while taking a look at the Cloak-and-Dagger exploit.

"Our researchers looked into the original Cloak and Dagger research and continued to delve deeper into the way windows can be drawn by apps in Android and found the ability to abuse the accessibility system in this way," Budd explains.

He notes Palo Alto Networks is not aware of any active attacks that have exploited the Toast vulnerability.

Roman Unuchek, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, agrees there is an easier way for attackers to gain entry for an overlay attack beyond meeting the two requirements needed for the Cloak and Dagger exploit.

“Our findings actually show something different – this can be done easily, just by asking for accessibility services," Unuchek says.

He added Kaspersky also has not seen any cybercriminals exploiting the toast vulnerability but noted that these criminals are able to exploit new vulnerabilities very fast. 

Related Content:

 

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18942
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-26
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager versions prior to 11.7.1 are vulnerable to stored XSS. The application reflects previously stored user input without encoding.
CVE-2019-18943
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-26
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager versions prior to 11.7.1 are vulnerable to XML External Entity Processing (XXE) on certain operations.
CVE-2019-18944
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-26
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager Application Repository versions prior to 11.7.1 are vulnerable to reflected XSS.
CVE-2019-18945
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-26
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager Application Repository versions prior to 11.7.1 are vulnerable to privilege escalation vulnerability.
CVE-2019-18946
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-26
Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager Application Repository versions prior to 11.7.1 are vulnerable to session fixation.