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Google Patches Android DoS Flaws

The patch fixes flaws that would enable malformed SMS messages or mobile applications to crash Android 1.5 handsets.
Google recently patched two Android security flaws that left the mobile operating system vulnerable to denial-of-service issues.

The vulnerabilities were made public by the Open Source Computer Emergency Response Team, and the flaws impacted the 1.5 version of the OS. The platform is picking up steam with the release of new handsets like the HTC Hero for Sprint Nextel, which could make it a more attractive target for hackers.

One issue enabled a single malformed SMS message to trigger a condition that would disconnect the handset from the cellular network. This causes the phone application to restart without the user's knowledge, which leads to dropped calls and lost connectivity. Triggering this bug multiple times is considered a remote denial-of-service condition, according to oCERT.

The Linux-based OS also had vulnerabilities in its Dalvik application programming interface that could lead to rapid restarting of the handset.

"A specific malicious application can be crafted so that if it is downloaded and executed by the user, it would trigger the vulnerable API function and restart the system process," according to an advisory notice from oCERT. "The same condition could occur if a developer unintentionally places the vulnerable function in a place where the execution path leads to that function call. Triggering this bug is considered a DoS condition."

The Android OS is primarily on consumer devices, although smartphones like the Hero do have enterprise capabilities thanks to its built-in support for Microsoft Exchange. The OS is expected to gain traction within companies over the next few years as Google bakes in more enterprise-friendly features, and it could also gain clout with corporations if more companies adopt Google Apps.


A bMighty Webcast explores how midsize businesses can keep their laptops secure. It happens Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. Find out more and register.

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