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Android TrustZone Vulnerabilities Being Exploited

Sep 5, 2017

If you have an Android device, you need to know about the TrustZone vulnerabilities that are going on right now. The vulnerabilities are when the Android TrustZone technology is downgraded to an older version of TrustZone. Once this happens, there are several vulnerabilities that are being exploited to create some potentially huge problems. We have all of the latest news on the Android TrustZone vulnerabilities and how you can protect yourself from this problem.

Downgrading TrustZone Leads to Several Exploits in Vulnerabilities

The biggest concern, which was found by Florida computer scientists, is that if the TrustZone component is downgraded. If Android TrustZone is downgraded, it could open up the doors for exploiting vulnerabilities on an Android device.

Basically, even if your smartphone is running the up-to-date Android operating system, the downgrade in TrustZone could create problems. The technology used for these exploits is known as ARM. The design flaw is where there are problems, and most Android devices in use today have this ARM technology in TrustZone.

If you have not heard about the TrustZone technology before, it is in the Android device. Specifically, it is part of the main processor that is supposed to be secure. This System on Chip is found within a certain area of the Android kernel. A really cool thing is that it runs within its own operating system known as TrustZone OS. This is a separate part and it all works separately from the Android operating system itself.

TrustZone creates a special section where sensitive operations happen, such as those that are needed for encryption. Special apps called trustlets are ran from inside of the OS.

TrustZone Threat Found on Android

The issue is that these trustlets can be downgraded, which is where the possible exploitation can occur. The truslets, which are trusted applications, do not have a preventative measure in place to prevent the downgrading or rollbacks. Since there is no protection to prevent the trustlets from being rolled back to a previous version, you are then allowing possible vulnerabilities from older versions be exploited.

When something like this happens, the newer trustlets can be replaced by these older trustlets that have the vulnerabilities. Attackers will be able to do this because this specific OS is not equipped to know when the versions are switched out. The reason behind this is because the cryptographic keys are the same regardless of the version of the trustlets. The same keys are being used on many Android smartphones all over the world. This means that several millions of Android smartphones are vulnerable to this  very specific type of exploitation.

How to Prevent TrustZone Exploitation

When it comes to how you can prevent the exploitation of the vulnerabilities, there are a couple things you can do. The first is that you should always update your Android device and apply the patches when they come out. This goes for both smartphones and tablets.

You also need to make sure that you are paying attention when apps are updated and ensure you have all of your apps updated quickly. When it comes to the ARM issues, the only good news is that it is not that easy to exploit or downgrade. That means an attacker probably will not go through the trouble, although you should still be warned and prepared.