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Samsung Smartphone Users Warned of Actively Exploited Vulnerability

Samsung smartphone users warned about CVE-2023-21492, an ASLR bypass vulnerability exploited in the wild, likely by a spyware vendor.

Samsung phone exploit

Samsung smartphone users have been warned by the vendor and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about a recently patched vulnerability being exploited in attacks.

The flaw in question is CVE-2023-21492, described as a kernel pointer exposure issue related to log files. The security hole can allow a privileged local attacker to bypass the ASLR exploit mitigation technique. This indicates that it has likely been chained with other bugs.

Samsung patched CVE-2023-21492 with its May 2023 security updates and said it learned about the flaw in mid-January. The company said certain Android 11, 12 and 13 devices are impacted.

CISA added the bug to its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog on Friday, instructing government agencies to patch it by June 9.

The vulnerability was discovered by Google’s Threat Analysis Group, which suggests that it has likely been exploited by a commercial spyware vendor. Google noted in its zero-day exploitation database that CVE-2023-21492 was discovered in 2021.

Reports published by Google in recent months describe campaigns in which threat actors linked to spyware vendors attempted to hack Samsung smartphones through various zero-day and n-day vulnerabilities.

In one such campaign, discovered in December 2022, attackers attempted to deliver Android spyware to users in the United Arab Emirates through the Samsung Internet Browser. The attacks were linked by the internet giant to Variston, a Spanish commercial spyware vendor.

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Google has also disclosed the details of several Samsung phone vulnerabilities with a 2021 CVE identifier that had been exploited by a spyware vendor while they still had a zero-day status. The company is aware of nine Samsung vulnerabilities discovered in 2021 that have been exploited in attacks.  

CISA on Friday also added two Cisco IOS vulnerabilities to its KEV catalog. One of them is CVE-2016-6415, whose existence came to light in 2016 as a result of the Shadow Brokers leaks

The second is a very old DoS vulnerability tracked as CVE-2004-1464. Cisco warned customers about its exploitation back in 2004 when it released patches. 

Related: Google Links Exploitation Frameworks to Spanish Spyware Vendor Variston

Related: New Samsung Message Guard Protects Mobile Devices Against Zero-Click Exploits

Related: Android Security Update Patches Kernel Vulnerability Exploited by Spyware Vendor

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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