A vulnerability mostly affecting older versions of Google's Android operating system may make it possible for attackers to execute malicious code on end-user smartphones that use a wide variety of apps, researchers said.
The weakness resides in a widely used programming interface known as WebView, which allows developers to embed Web-based content into apps used for banking, entertainment, and other purposes. Many apps available on the official Google Play market don't properly secure the connection between the WebView component on a phone and the Web content being downloaded, researchers from UK-based MWR Labs recently warned. That makes it possible for attackers who are on the same open Wi-Fi network as a vulnerable user to hijack the connection and inject malicious code that can be executed by the phone.
"The lowest impact attack would be downloading contents of the SD card and the exploited application's data directory," the researchers wrote in an advisory published earlier this week. "However, depending on the device that was exploited this could extend to obtaining root privileges, retrieving other sensitive user data from the device or causing the user monetary loss."