OnQ Blog

Enter the Snapdragon

This is the latest in a series of product-security related posts from Qualcomm Technologies’ Corporate Product Security team.

The principal goal of Android security is the secure containment of application privileges, and the foundation of this isolation is the security of the kernel. In the early days of Android, kernel vulnerability research generally meant porting upstream issues to Android. However, in recent years we have seen an increased interest from researchers in the platform-specific attack surface of the Android kernel.

Qualcomm Technologies, thanks to our Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors at the heart of many Android devices, are at the center of researchers’ interest. Therefore, in cooperation with the Qualcomm Innovation Center, we have increased our focus on Android kernel security. Among other things, our work includes code reviews, vulnerability finding automation, attack surface hardening and improving the various phases of incident response. Some of this work has already been visible to the public through the introduction of Security Advisories and a Hall of Fame via the Code Aurora Forum.

In a recent presentation at the Hacktivity security conference, I described in detail our work in this area. The presentation provides insight into the scope of the platform-specific attack surface, presents tools we have developed for rapid exploit reverse engineering and automated vulnerability finding, and describes kernel hardening countermeasures that we have introduced.

The Hacktivity 2014 slides and videos can be found here.