Check Point Software Technologies is a publicly-traded cybersecurity provider, that has discovered four vulnerabilities in smartphone chips from MediaTek Inc. which could enable hackers to install malware on affected devices.
Taiwan-based MediaTek supplies chips for Android handsets and “internet of things” products. Their silicon powers 37% of all smartphones and IoT devices, according to market research cited by Check Point Software.
The four vulnerabilities discovered by the cybersecurity firm affect some of MediaTek’s systems, which combine a central processing unit with additional computing modules. Those modules include an artificial intelligence accelerator and a digital signal processor that performs audio processing tasks.
The vulnerabilities affect the digital signal processor. Three of them are in the processor’s firmware, the low-level software that controls how a chip operates. The fourth security issue was found in the hardware abstraction layer. The hardware abstraction layer is a technology that is used by a device’s operating system, in this case, Android, to control the chip on which it runs.
According to Check Point Software, the vulnerabilities can be used by a malicious Android application to infect a MediaTek digital signal processor with malware users. Hackers can install the malware by causing the processor to generate a software flaw known as a heap overflow. In a heap overflow, parts of a processor’s memory that contain application data are overwritten with malicious code.
By themselves, the settings cannot cause a severe risk because they can’t be accessed by Android apps under normal conditions. But access is made possible by a separate set of problems affecting a piece of software that the digital signal processor uses to coordinate its work with other components.
Check Point Software has added the vulnerabilities to the CVE system that the cybersecurity community uses to track cybersecurity flaws.
The vulnerabilities are tracked as following: CVE-2021-0661, CVE-2021-0662, CVE-2021-0663 and CVE-2021-0673.