New RAMpage attack affects all Android phones released since 2012 [Update]
RAMpage can access passwords, photos, documents, and more.
Updated June 29, 2018: Shortly after news broke on RAMpage, Google reached out to Android Central with the following statement: “We have worked closely with the team from Vrije Universiteit, and though this vulnerability isn’t a practical concern for the overwhelming majority of users, we appreciate any effort to protect them and advance the field of security research. While we recognize the theoretical proof of concept from the researchers, we are not aware of any exploit against Android devices.”
There’s a new security vulnerability, boys and girls. It’s called RAMpage and is the latest type of Rowhammer attack to hit the scene.
RAMpage was discovered by a group of eight academics across three different universities and the official research paper was published on June 28, 2018. It reads as follows:
RAMpage breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system. 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.
As for what kind of secrets RAMpage could access, the paper notes that “this might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.”
RAMpage targets the ION subsystem in Android which is a memory allocation driver that was first launched by Google alongside Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. However, even though Android’s the focus of the attack right now, it’s expected that RAMpage could also impact iOS devices, desktops, and more.
Because RAMpage targets ION, gadgets that use LPDDR2/3/4 RAM are all impacted. In other words, if your Android phone was released during or after 2012, it’s vulnerable to the attack.
The research going into RAMpage is still quite new, but now that a spotlight is being placed on it, hopefully we’ll see Google and other OEMs do their part to get devices patched up for users around the globe.
Read through the full research paper here