cyber security

Google Revealed Kernel Address Sanitizer To Harden Android Firmware And Beyond

Android devices are popular among hackers due to the platform’s extensive acceptance and open-source nature.

However, it has a big attack surface with over 2.5 billion active Android devices all over the world.

It also poses challenges when it comes to prompt vulnerability patching due to its fragmented ecosystem that consists of different hardware vendors and delayed software updates.

Malware distribution, surveillance, and unauthorized financial gain, or any other malicious purpose are some examples of how cybercriminals take advantage of these loopholes in security.

Recently, Google unveiled the Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASan) to strengthen the Android firmware and beyond.

Android Firmware And Beyond

KASan (Kernel Address Sanitizer) has broad applicability across firmware targets. Incorporating KASan-enabled builds into testing and fuzzing can proactively identify memory corruption vulnerabilities and stability issues before deployment on user devices.


Download Free CISO’s Guide to Avoiding the Next Breach

Are you from The Team of SOC, Network Security, or Security Manager or CSO? Download Perimeter’s Guide to how cloud-based, converged network security improves security and reduces TCO.

  • Understand the importance of a zero trust strategy
  • Complete Network security Checklist
  • See why relying on a legacy VPN is no longer a viable security strategy
  • Get suggestions on how to present the move to a cloud-based network security solution
  • Explore the advantages of converged network security over legacy approaches
  • Discover the tools and technologies that maximize network security

Adapt to the changing threat landscape effortlessly with Perimeter 81’s cloud-based, unified network security platform.

Google has already leveraged KASan on firmware targets, leading to the discovery and remediation of over 40 memory safety bugs, some critically severe, through proactive vulnerability detection.

Address Sanitizer (ASan) is a compiler instrumentation tool that identifies invalid memory access bugs like out-of-bounds, use-after-free, and double-free errors during runtime. 

For user-space targets, enabling ASan is straightforward with the -fsanitize=address option. However, for bare-metal code built with none system targets like arm-none-eabi, there’s no default runtime support. 

The -fsanitize=kernel-address option exposes an interface to provide custom KASan runtime implementations, like the Linux kernel’s routines.

KASan’s core idea is to instrument memory access operations like loads, stores, and memory copy functions to verify the validity of destination/source regions. 

It only allows access to valid regions tracked in a shadow memory area, where each byte represents the state (allocated, freed, accessible bytes) of a fixed-size memory region. 

Upon detecting an invalid access, KASan reports the violation.

Enabling KASan for bare-metal targets requires implementing instrumentation routines to check region validity during memory operations, report violations, and manage shadow memory to track the state of covered regions.

For Bare-Metal Firmware, Enabling KASan

Here below we have mentioned all the sequential steps:-

  • KASan shadow memory
  • Implement a KASan runtime
  • Memory access check
  • Shadow memory management
  • Covering global variables
  • Memory copy functions
  • Avoiding false positives for noreturn functions
  • Hook heap memory allocation routines

For the usage of KASan on bare-metal code, one should employ -fsanitize=kernel-address option of the compiler and -asan-mapping-offset to indicate the location of shadow memory, -asan-stack/globals=1 to cover stack/global variables and -asan-instrumentation-with-call-threshold=0 for outlining checks against code bloat.

In addition, strategies such as leveraging Rust (a memory-safe language) are being advanced in order to proactively guard against memory vulnerabilities in the Android system.

Stay updated on Cybersecurity news, Whitepapers, and Infographics. Follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Raga Varshini

Recent Posts

Hackers Exploiting Docusign With Phishing Attack To Steal Credentials

Hackers prefer phishing as it exploits human vulnerabilities rather than technical flaws which make it a highly effective and low-cost…

24 hours ago

Norway Recommends Replacing SSLVPN/WebVPN to Stop Cyber Attacks

A very important message from the Norwegian National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) says that Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS)…

3 days ago

New Linux Backdoor Attacking Linux Users Via Installation Packages

Linux is widely used in numerous servers, cloud infrastructure, and Internet of Things devices, which makes it an attractive target…

3 days ago

ViperSoftX Malware Uses Deep Learning Model To Execute Commands

ViperSoftX malware, known for stealing cryptocurrency information, now leverages Tesseract, an open-source OCR engine, to target infected systems, which extracts…

3 days ago

Santander Data Breach: Hackers Accessed Company Database

Santander has confirmed that there was a major data breach that affected its workers and customers in Spain, Uruguay, and…

3 days ago

U.S. Govt Announces Rewards up to $5 Million for North Korean IT Workers

The U.S. government has offered a prize of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest and…

3 days ago