Security Experts:

Popular AirDroid App Vulnerable to Authentication Flaw: Researchers

Researchers from security consultancy Bishop Fox have discovered a flaw in the popular Android app AirDroid that allows a remote attacker to secretly take control of a victim’s smartphone.

Used to help people organize their mobile life by providing the remote ability to send text messages, edit files, and manage other apps, AirDroid for Android has more than 20 million downloads from GooglePlay and currently has more than 385,000 reviews, with an overall rating of 4.5 stars of the maximum 5 stars.

Unfortunately, AirDroid’s web application is vulnerable to a pretty serious authentication bug, the researchers claim, saying the flaw can be exploited even when the app isn’t operating.

Once an attacker gains access to a victim’s phone, an attacker can perform actions such as taking photos via the phone’s camera, track the victim via GPS, send messages and harass the victim’s contacts, Bishop Fox’s Matt Bryant explained in a blog post.

The proof-of-concept video below shows the AirDroid exploit in action.

Bishop Fox said the vulnerability was disclosed to AirDroid’s team who has developed and released a patch for the desktop version of AirDroid.

“The more important lesson here, though, goes far beyond this particular bug. Careful scrutiny is a must when allowing mobile applications extensive permissions,” Bryant said. “Therefore, exercise caution when permitting an app pervasive access to your phone. It’s easy to be desensitized to lengthy permission lists, as so many apps come with overbearing requests for access. Most people are fast to ignore these lists and accept all requests for the sake of convenience.”

“AirDroid is a best-case scenario, but there will likely be – and probably already are – apps with similar unresolved vulnerabilities that can be leveraged by attackers,” Bryant continued. “The best advice to avoid falling for such attacks is to be mindful of an app’s level of permissions. The more permissions you give, the more you may be putting yourself at risk.”

view counter
For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.