Google Project Zero Reported Dangerous Vulnerabilities In Android Smartphones

Cybersecurity experts at Project Zero, a division of Google, reported five dangerous vulnerabilities in popular smartphone models discovered in the summer but remain unpatched. All vulnerabilities are in the integrated graphics core Mali created by ARM. 

The Google Project Zero team working in the field of information security reported the problem to ARM as early as this summer, but the vulnerabilities remain relevant. ARM has long released patches that fix problems, but not all smartphone manufacturers have implemented them in their update packages. 

Issues are tracked under the identifiers CVE-2022-33917 and CVE-2022-36449  (a collective ID for several bugs at once).

Vulnerability CVE-2022-33917 allows an unprivileged user to perform incorrect processing operations to gain access to free memory sections. The vulnerability affects ARM Mali GPU core drivers from Valhall r29p0 to r38p0.

The second bug, CVE-2022-36449, is related to several issues that allow an unprivileged user to access freed memory, write out of buffer limits, and disclose memory mapping information. The vulnerability affects ARM Mali GPU kernel drivers from Midgard r4p0 to r32p0; Bifrost r0p0 to r38p0 and r39p0 to r38p1; Valhall from r19p0 to r38p0 and r39p0 to r38p1.

Valhall drivers are used in Mali G710, G610 and G510 chips installed on Google Pixel 7Asus ROG Phone 6, Redmi Note 11 and 12, Honor 70 Pro, RealMe GT, Xiaomi 12 Pro, Oppo Find X5 Pro and Reno 8 Pro, Motorola Edge and OnePlus 10R.

Bifrost drivers are used in older (2018) Mali G76, G72 and G52 chips used by devices such as Samsung Galaxy S10, S9, A51 and A71, Redmi Note 10, Huawei P30 and P40 Pro, Honor View 20, Motorola Moto G60S and Realme 7.

In turn, Midgard drivers are used in even older (2016 release) Mali T800 and T700 series chips, which can be found on board the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Note 7, Sony Xperia X XA1, Huawei Mate 8, Nokia 3.1, LG X and Redmi Note 4.

Unfortunately, users will be unable to defend themselves against these vulnerabilities until the vendor issues the necessary updates. The worst part is that the older smartphones that use Midgard drivers are unlikely to receive any updates.

Exploiting these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to access a victim’s device fully, despite Android restrictions. The Project Zero team disclosed these vulnerabilities three months after they were patched by ARM. When exactly smartphone manufacturers release fixes for these vulnerabilities is still unknown.

Bhasker Das
Bhasker Das
Bhasker Das, with a master's in Cybersecurity, is a seasoned editor focusing on online security, privacy, and protection. When not decrypting the complexities of the cyber world, Anu indulges in his passion for chess, seeing parallels in strategy and foresight.


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