Android privilege escalation to mediaserver from zero permissions (CVE-2014-7920 + CVE-2014-7921)

In this blog post we'll go over two vulnerabilities I discovered which, when combined, enable arbitrary code execution within the "mediaserver" process from any context, requiring no permissions whatsoever.


How bad is it?

The first vulnerability (CVE-2014-7921) was present in all Android version from 4.0.3 onwards. The second vulnerability (CVE-2014-7920) was present in all Android versions from 2.2 (!). Also, these vulnerabilities are not vendor specific and were present in all Android devices. Since the first vulnerability is only needed to bypass ASLR, and ASLR is only present (in a meaningful form) from Android 4.1 onwards, this means that these vulnerabilities allow code execution within "mediaserver" on any Android device starting from version 2.2.

Although I reported both vulnerabilities in mid October 2014, they were unfortunately only fixed much later (see "Timeline" for full description, below) - in Android version 5.1!  This means that there are many devices out there which are still vulnerable to these issues, so please take care.
You can find the actual patches here. The patches were pushed to AOSP five months after the vulnerabilities were reported.

That said, the Android security team was very pleasant to work with, and with other vulnerabilities I reported later on, were much more responsive and managed to solve the issues within a shorter time-frame.