The tech world erupted in December when news leaked about a kernel exploit with select Samsung Exynos chipsets. Apparently, the exploit allows an APK to root the device with just one click, thus opening up potential opportunities for those with harmful intentions. A ne'er-do-well could essentially develop an app that roots the phone, without express permission from the user, and then uses elevated permissions to do any number of heinous things. Probably the most detrimental factor with such an exploit is that a malware app can make its way stealthily onto the affected devices, then it could easily record and send off sensitive information.
Keep in mind that the term malware, is used loosely here. Malware, or malicious software, essentially refers to any application or program that can cause ruinous harm to the user or software in question. In this case, the term malware was used to describe anything that could take advantage of this kernel exploit, in a negative way.
Before you light your torches and storm to your local mobile provider, with a thirst for blood, it's likely that your device isn't even affected. The exploit only affects devices equipped with the Exynos 4210 and 4412 processors, most of which are international devices.
When the kernel exploit first appeared, Samsung issued a statement to Android Central that developers would be working to provide a fix for the issue "as quickly as possible". True to their word, the updates have started pushing out to users, which specifically address the vulnerability.
So far, the devices seeing a fix for the exploit are the following:
Sprint Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch: The FL24 update will roll out to users over the next 30 days. It offers the necessary "security updates" and also includes the Sprint Connections Optimizer.
T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2: The T889UVALL4 update will be pushing out over the air, or you can manually update your device using Kies. It essentially offers a series of bug fixes right along with "Exynos and other security enhancements".
Of course, various other devices are affected by the kernel exploit which have yet to see a software fix. The devices with potential risks are:
- International Galaxy S2
- International Galaxy S3
- International Galaxy Note 2
- Various tablets with the Exynos 4 processor
- Samsung Galaxy Player
- Galaxy Tab 2 Devices
- Galaxy Note 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy S3 in the US is relatively safe and does not suffer from this particular exploit, so if you happen to own one then you can breathe a sigh of relief (pure sarcasm there). This is because it uses a dual-core Snapdragon processor instead of one of the Exynos models mentioned above.
It's certainly worth noting that there are indeed devices affected in the US, I'm just merely pointing out that a lot of the models with Exynos chipsets are not offered in the States.
If you do own one of the affected devices, then there's certainly no need to panic. Just pay attention to what applications you are installing on your device, and what permissions they are requesting. Surely an update will be available soon for the rest of the devices also plagued by this issue.
Source: Android Central