peshkova - Fotolia
A flaw in the Android browser, which Google no longer supports, was recently discovered that allows attackers to steal user data from the application. Google already patched the vulnerability for Chrome, which is now the default browser for Android devices, but the Android browser still sits on many devices. What is the best way to mitigate this issue?
Researchers from security firm Rapid7 Inc. found that Android Open Source Project browsers shipped with versions of the operating system prior to Android 4.4 (KitKat) are affected; Google replaced the AOSP browser with its Chrome browser in Android 4.4. This means approximately 75% of the fragmented Android ecosystem is affected, and it appears a fix has only been rolled out for Android 4.1 - 4.3, leaving earlier versions unpatched. Also, other browsers that are based on AOSP's code -- such as Samsung's browser -- also contain this flaw.
Users will have to wait for device vendors to import patches and release firmware updates. The timeframe for this to happen can vary greatly among manufacturers, devices and even countries as local carriers play a role in the distribution of over-the-air updates.
Enterprises should ensure all devices are upgraded to the latest version that doesn't contain the Android browser security vulnerability. Devices that can't be upgraded should be retired and replaced. If this is not an option, install the Chrome browser, as it's not affected. Be sure to make Chrome the default browser for opening links to prevent other apps from using the vulnerable browser which unfortunately can't be uninstalled.
This is a serious vulnerability as it could lead to an attacker stealing session cookies and hijacking a user's session completely, so administrators should look to mitigate this risk as soon as possible.
Ask the Expert:
Perplexed about application security? Send Michael Cobb your questions today. (All questions are anonymous.)
Get SearchSecurity's latest tips and advice on Web browser security.
Dig Deeper on Mobile security threats and prevention
Related Q&A from Michael Cobb
Sending sensitive information in attachments is inherently unsafe, and the main way to secure them -- encryption -- can be implemented inconsistently... Continue Reading
Spyware can steal mundane information, track a user's every move and everything in between. Read up on the types of spyware and how to best fix ... Continue Reading
Explore the differences between symmetric vs. asymmetric encryption algorithms, including common uses and examples of both, as well as their pros and... Continue Reading