Almost all Android devices released since 2012 are vulnerable to a new vulnerability named RAMpage, an international team of academics has revealed today.
The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-9442, is a variation of the Rowhammer attack.
Rowhammer is a hardware bug in modern memory cards. A few years back researchers discovered that when someone would send repeated write/read requests to the same row of memory cells, the write/read operations would create an electrical field that would alter data stored on nearby memory.
RAMpage is the latest Rowhammer attack variation
The first Rowhammer attack on Android devices was named DRammer, and it could modify data on Android devices and root Android smartphones. Today, researchers expanded on that initial work.
According to a research paper published today, a team of eight academics from three universities and two private companies revealed a new Rowhammer-like attack on Android devices named RAMpage.
"RAMpage breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system," researchers said. "While apps are typically not permitted to read data from other apps, a malicious program can craft a RAMpage exploit to get administrative control and get hold of secrets stored in the device."
"This might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents," the research team said.
The research team also published a website detailing their findings. Although the website is a visual copy of the website used for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, researchers said there's no resemblance between Meltdown/Spectre and RAMpage. This is because Meltdown and Spectre go after data stored inside CPU caches while RAMpage goes after data stored inside RAM cards.
"[We] hope that this page gets more people involved in contributing to research," the research team wrote on this site. "It is currently unclear how widespread the Rowhammer bug (the hardware error that rampage exploits) is."
"By getting more people to run our updated Drammer test app, we hope to get a better understanding of this issue, allowing us to make decisions on how to move forward (i.e., should we continue looking for defenses or is this an already-solved problem?)."