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Opening this image file grants hackers access to your Android phone

10 February 2019

Well, Google has uncovered a new method to hack Android smartphones using malicious PNG files.

Google was reserved in providing specific details about how the vulnerability works, noting only that it related to Android's Framework.On the positive note, there are no known cases of the vulnerability being exploited in the wild. Should the user open the file, the exploit is triggered.

The vulnerability, found in Android 7.0 Nougat through to Android 9.0 Pie, was first disclosed by Google in an Android Security Bulletin published February 4. The severity assessment is based on the effect that exploiting the vulnerability would possibly have on an affected device, assuming the platform and service mitigations are turned off for development purposes or if successfully bypassed. As always, make sure to update your Android device to the latest available version of Android as, and that you download the security updates as soon as you get any notifications.

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Remote attackers are then able to execute arbitrary code in the context of a privileged process, according to Google. To further aggravate the issue, a majority of at-risk users have not been notified as to when their Android smartphone will receive the February 2019 Android security update and safeguard them.

The critical vulnerability has been spotted in three forms (CVE-2019-1986, CVE-2019-1987, and CVE-2019-1988) and affects Android smartphones running Android 7.0 or a higher build going all the way up to Android Pie.

The security vulnerability update is quite vague as it doesn't share anything about what precautions need to be taken or how a hacker can send simple looking PNG files to victims on e-mail, a program, or social websites that in reality trigger an Android smartphone to be compromised. It is not clear when other Android smartphone makers will release the update to their own devices. There's probably no way people would know they had been targeted.

Opening this image file grants hackers access to your Android phone