Google is working on a fix to a zero-day flaw discovered by British security expert Thomas Cannon that could lead to user data on a mobile phone or tablet device being exposed to attack. Cannon informed Google before posting information about the flaw on his blog. ‘While doing an application security assessment one evening I found a general vulnerability in Android which allows a malicious website to get the contents of any file stored on the SD card,’ Cannon wrote. ‘It would also be possible to retrieve a limited range of other data and files stored on the phone using this vulnerability.’


Here’s a good assessment of the problem:

So let’s say you bought a Windows box. Maybe you got it from HP. Maybe you got it from Dell. Maybe from Sony.

Who do you expect to provide you with a patch when someone discovers a new Windows vulnerability? Microsoft, right? If it’s really serious it’ll probably pop up in the next Patch Tuesday. If it’s hyper-serious then it might come out three or four days after the vuln was announced.

That’s not the way it works in the Android world, annoyingly enough. Imagine if the version of Windows loaded onto that HP machine was a special HP version, full of HP customizations like a proprietary HP window manager and a proprietary HP web browser. MS can’t give you any patches because the HP customizations are a fork of MS’s source [code]; when MS does bugfixes, someone at HP has to take a diff of the new MS tree, merge it with the HP tree, and run it all through QA. Oh, and the store you bought it from? Some of them have their own variant source trees too, so the same machine bought from Best Buy rather than direct from HP has its own fork of the OS.

Now multiply this by a different fork for every damn model they sell. Oh, and because they only have so much money, HP/Dell/Sony/Best Buy/whoever typically only bother merging in the OS updates for computers they made in the last year. If you’re lucky.

Peganthyrus @ Slashdot