Over at the DEF CON 24 conference, security researchers revealed four vulnerabilities in Qualcomm's chipset drivers for the Android platform. Qualcomm is the leading designer of LTE chipsets, it has a 65 percent share of the LTE modem baseband market so the vulnerabilities are believed to be present in as many as 900 million smartphones and tablets.
The security researchers named the set of vulnerabilities "QuadRooter", attackers could use them to gain complete control of devices and unrestricted access to the data on them. Qualcomm was informed about the security flaws in April, they issued updates to OEMs but the problem is of course that most Android devices receive few, if any, updates.
What Android devices are at risk?
QuadRooter vulnerabilities are found in software drivers that ship with Qualcomm chipsets. Any Android device built using these chipsets is at risk. The drivers, which control communication between chipset components, become incorporated into Android builds manufacturers develop for their devices.
Since the vulnerable drivers are pre-installed on devices at the point of manufacture, they can only be fixed by installing a patch from the distributor or carrier. Distributors and carriers issuing patches can only do so after receiving fixed driver packs from Qualcomm.
This situation highlights the inherent risks in the Android security model. Critical security updates must pass through the entire supply chain before they can be made available to end users. Once available, the end users must then be sure to install these updates to protect their devices and data.