Baidu Android app component puts 100 million devices at risk

Baidu's Moplus SDK allows attackers to execute malicious commands on users' devices

A software development kit created by Chinese Internet services company Baidu and used by thousands of Android applications contains a feature that gives attackers backdoor-like access to users' devices.

The SDK is called Moplus and while it's not open to the public, it was integrated in more than 14,000 apps, of which only around 4,000 were created by Baidu, security researchers from Trend Micro said in a blog post Sunday.

The company estimates that the affected apps are used by over 100 million users.

According to Trend Micro's analysis, the Moplus SDK opens an HTTP server on devices where affected apps are installed; the server doesn't use authentication and accepts requests from anyone on the Internet.

Even worse, by sending requests to this hidden HTTP server, attackers can execute predefined commands that were implemented in the SDK. These can be used to extract sensitive information like location data and search queries, as well as to add new contacts, upload files, make phone calls, display bogus messages and install apps.

On devices that have been rooted, the SDK allows the silent installation of applications, which means that users will not be prompted for confirmation. In fact, the Trend Micro researchers have already found a worm in the wild that exploits this backdoor to install unwanted applications. The malware is detected as ANDROIDOS_WORMHOLE.HRXA.

The Trend Micro researchers believe that in many ways the Moplus flaw is worse than one discovered earlier this year in the Android Stagefright library because at least that one required attackers to send malicious multimedia messages to users' phone numbers or to trick them into opening malicious URLs.

In order to exploit the Moplus issue attackers can simply scan entire mobile networks for Internet Protocol addresses that have the specific Moplus HTTP server ports opened, the researchers said.

Trend Micro has notified Baidu and Google about the security issue.

Baidu released a new version of the SDK in which it removed some commands, but the HTTP server is still being opened and some functionality can still be abused, the Trend Micro researchers said.

Baidu fixed all the security issues that were reported to the company by Oct. 30, a Baidu representative said via email. "The remaining code that was identified in the latest [Trend Micro] post as potentially problematic after our fix is actually dead code, with no effect at all."

There are no "backdoors," the representative said, adding that the inactive code will be removed in the next version of the company's apps for "clarity's sake."

However, the question remains how quickly all of the third-party developers that used this SDK will update their apps with the latest version. Trend Micro's list of the top 20 affected applications includes apps by developers other than Baidu and some of them are still in Google Play.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?