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Fundacin Dr. Manuel Sadosky - Programa STIC Advisory
*Vulnerabilities in the Samsung SNS Provider application for Android*
1. *Advisory Information*
Title: Vulnerabilities in the Samsung SNS Provider application for Android
Advisory ID: STIC-2014-0511
Advisory URL: http://www.fundacionsadosky.org.ar/publicaciones-2
Date published: 2015-3-11
Date of last update: 2015-3-11
Vendors contacted: Samsung
Release mode: Coordinated release
2. *Vulnerability Information*
Class: Incorrect Permission Assignment for Critical Resource [CWE-732]
Impact: Data loss
Remotely Exploitable: No
Locally Exploitable: Yes
CVE Identifier: N/A
3. *Vulnerability Description*
The Samsung Social Networking Service Provider application ("SNS
Provider") is used to manage the user's accounts on social network
sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and Foursquare; it
acts as an internal service so other applications, such as Calendar
and Gallery3d, can obtain information about the user's profile and
content stored on such sites. The application comes pre-installed in
many Samsung devices. For example, the Android Census project 
identified a subset of devices on which the application is installed .
According to statistics about Facebook applications provided by
Factets.com the "SNS Provider" app, listed as "Samsung Galaxy" in
Facebook, had about 41 million monthly active users, 17 million weekly
active users and 5 million daily users as of February 17th, 2015.
When a user logs in to Facebook or Twitter on a Samsung device
that has "SNS Provider" installed, the application immediately
requests the user to grant it full access to the account. If the user
complies, an access token to the user's account on the social network
is obtained and stored in a local shared preference file so it can be
passed on to other applications that request it. In devices running
Android 4.4 and newer, "SNS Provider" also supports management of user
accounts on Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare social networks.
"SNS Provider" implements several services used for management and
syncing of user's social network accounts (Facebook, Twitter or
Fourquare and Google+ in newer devices). These services aren't
protected by any permissions. As a result, malicious third party
applications installed on the device could use these unprotected
services to directly obtain photos, statuses, feeds, location and
other type of information from the user's social Facebook or Twitter
accounts as well as post new content to it.
"SNS Provider" also includes services that allow other
applications to request the access token to the user's Twitter and
Facebook accounts. These services are protected by custom permissions
defined by the vendor that don't include proper protection level tags.
As a result any application can request permission to access these
services and users aren't notified by default when this happens.
Furthermore, the custom-defined permissions don't have proper labels
or descriptions that let users understand what is being requested. A
malicious application that is granted these permissions could then
connect to these services and obtain the credentials required to
access a users's social network account content permanently. For
example, such an application could access the user's private messages
on Facebook using the access token provided by the corresponding SNS
In devices running Android 4.3 and below "SNS Provider" also
includes content providers with custom-defined permissions declared as
"normal", so any application running on those devices can request
access to these content providers and read any information stored in them.
4. *Vulnerable packages*
.SNS Provider version older than 1.1.1 on Samsung devices on Android 4.1
.SNS Provider version older than 1.1.6 on Samsung devices on Android 4.2
.SNS Provider version older than 1.2.1 on Samsung devices on Android 4.3
.SNS Provider version older than 1.3.5 on Samsung devices on Android 4.4
.SNS Provider version older than 1.3.5 on Samsung devices on Android 5.0
5. *Vendor Information, Solutions and Workarounds*
Samsung disabled the App ID assigned to "SNS Provider" on Facebook
(listed as "Samsung Galaxy") and Twitter on Feb 17th, 2015 and issued
fixed versions of the app with a new App ID. This automatically
protects user's from malware that use the access tokens obtained from
the prior, vulnerable versions of "SNS Provider" but does not prevent
exfiltration of content already stored in the content providers on the
As a consequence of disabling "SNS Provider" on Facebook and
Twitter, users still using the vulnerable versions will see
notifications on their devices with messages stating "Try Single Sign
On again" or "Facebook/Twitter Session Expired".
Users are advised to update to the latest version of "SNS
Provider" from the Galaxy Apps market using the guidelines published
by the vendor at  and to clear the all the stored application data.
This vulnerability was discovered and researched by Joaqun Manuel
Rinaudo. The publication of this advisory was coordinated by Programa
de Seguridad en TIC.
7. *Technical Description*
All the vulnerable versions of the "SNS Provider" application
implement two services that are exported so other applications can
obtain information or interact with Facebook and Twitter social
networks, named 'SNSFbService' and 'SNSTwService' respectively. These
services allows an application to access the user's information (such
as statuses, photos, events, likes, etc in Facebook or get the access
token in the Twitter related service) and even post content on behalf
of the user. Since they aren't protected by any permission, any
malicious application can connect to them.
A third exported service 'SNSFbServiceForAuthToken' allows an
application to obtain the Facebook account credentials (access token)
but its protected by a custom permission:
'com.sec.android.SNS3.permission.SNS_FB_ACCESS_TOKEN'. In devices
running versions of Android greater than 4.1, the same happens for
Twitter and it's protected service 'SNSTwServiceForAuthToken' and the
The protection level  of these custom permissions is set to
"normal" so any third party application can request them. When a third
party, potentially malicious, application requires the user to grant
these permissions, they will not be shown in the short list of
permission presented to the user at installation time. They will only
appear if the user clicks on the UI button to show the lsit of all
requested permissions. Furthermore, when the entire list of
permissions requested is shown, these custom defined permissions will
appear to be named "Default" with a description consisting of the
default string "string resource". Therefore, it is likely that
unsuspecting users will simply grant these permissions to any third
party application that requests them.
In order to connect to these services, an attacker would need to
know their interface. The AIDL files can be reconstructed by reverse
engineering the application and observing the generated proxies and
stubs. The interfaces for the Twitter related service are in
'com.sec.android.SNS3.svc.sp.twitter.api' and the Facebook ones are in
The source code and corresponding binary APK file of a proof of
concept application that demonstrates exploitation of these
vulnerabilities found in . The application requests SNS Provider's
custom-defined permissions to communicate with SNS Provider's Facebook
and Twitter protected services and successfully connects to its
exported Facebook services (the protected and the unprotected one) and
the protected Twitter service. The UI has three buttons. When clicking
the first one, the application obtains the user's access token to
Twitter (if SNS Provider has been granted one) using a method exported
via AIDL from the service 'SNSTwitterServiceForAuthToken'. This works
on devices running versions of "SNS Provider" greater than 1.1.1. When
clicking the second button, the application does the same for Facebook
using 'SNSFbServiceForAuthToken'. Lastly, the third button calls one
of the methods from the unprotected 'SNSFbService' (no permission is
required to connect to it) to posts a new feed with the text "Hackers
o dominados" in the user's Facebook timeline.
This third button should no longer work since Feb 17. 2015 when
Facebook disabled the SNS Provider app.
In devices running Android 4.4 or greater, LinkedIn, GooglePlus
and Foursquare can also be connected to "SNS Provider". The last two
also have unprotected exported services named 'SNSGpService' and
'SNSFsService' respectively. Their interfaces can be found in
However the Google+ API only allows access to public content 
and the Foursquare components that alSNS to manage a user's Foursquare
account are disabled, so these components pose no effective risk to users.
SNS Provider doesn't request access automatically when it detects
a user has logged in to any of those social networks. Nevertheless, an
attacker could launch SNS Provider's exported activities that ask the
user to give the app access to the user's account by sending intents
with the actions 'com.sec.android.SNS3.RETRY_SSO_GOOGLEPLUS' for
Google+ and 'com.sec.android.SNS3.RETRY_SSO_FOURSQUARE' for
Foursquare. If granted, the attacker could then abuse the exported
services to obtain the user profile, feeds and places nearby.
In many older devices (running Android 4.3 or prior), the
information saved in the app's ContentProviders could be exfiltrated
by a malicious app that requested the permission
'com.sec.android.SNS3.permission.RSNS_DB' and queried stored photos
and feeds from Facebook social network. Attackers could also update
the information contained by the provider by sending a broadcast
signal to either 'SNSFbWidgetUpdatePhotoStreamReceiver' or
8. *Report Timeline*
. 2014-11-20: Programa de Seguridad en TIC notified Samsung's mobile
security team of discovered vulnerabilities in an application
pre-installed on several mobile devices and requested PGP key to
coordinate the report and disclosure process further.
. 2014-11-21: The Samsung mobile security team sent their PGP public
key to continue communications over encrypted email.
. 2014-11-25: Programa de Seguridad en TIC sent an preliminary report
about the security issues in SNS Provider and notified that the
initial publication date was set to December 2, 2014.
. 2014-11-26: Samsung mobile security team requested to hold off the
disclosure and asked to provide a POC of the exploit.
. 2014-11-26: Programa de Seguridad en TIC informed the vendor that
the publication date was established in case the report wasn't
acknowledged or that the vendor indicated it had no plan to fix the
issues. Since the vendor acknowledged the report and did not seem
reluctant to address the problems, publication of the security
advisory was postponed to December 16, 2014. Also, Programa de
Seguridad en TIC attached a proof-of-concept APK that demonstrated how
an attacker could abuse the services exported by SNS Provider.
. 2014-11-29: Samsung Mobile security team confirmed the security
issues and agreed to contact the coordinator later next week to work
together in determining the disclosure date.
. 2014-12-02: Programa de Seguridad en TIC asked for vulnerable device
models and software versions to be able to provide the user population
with precise information and agreed to push back publication of the
advisory to December 16th, 2014.
. 2014-12-12: Samsung mobile security team noted that an update would
require coordination between Samsung SNS vendors and service carriers
to resovle the issues properly and requested permission to disclose
the identity of the reporting organization to SNS vendors (Facebook,
Twitter). The vendor indicated that it was already testing the
application update fixing all the reported problems. Because of the
associated complexity, the vendor asked to hold off disclosure the
issue until the update was released, estimated to take 6 months since
it would require coordination of the release schedule with the service
carriers. It also informed that determining the lists of vulnerable
device models and software versions would take a while given the wide
range of devices manufactured by the vendor.
. 2014-15-15: Samsung mobile security team requested to confirm the
previous mail regarding the disclosure date.
. 2014-12-15: Programa de Seguridad en TIC acknowledged having
received the mail and agreed to postpone the publication but informed
the vendor that the additional 6 months requested were considered an
excessive timespan. A new deadline would be discussed internally along
with alternative solutions.
. 2015-1-2: Samsung mobile security team informed that it now
estimated that the patch would take much longer than 6 months because
of complexities in Android software ecosystem, inability to
auto-update the application and problems updating the software to some
models due to carrier policies.
. 2015-1-9: Programa de Seguridad en TIC agreed with the complications
to provide a patch to a pre-installed application for which there is
no auto-update capability. Alternative solutions where proposed such
as: 1) informing the users so they disable the SNS Provider app from
their Facebook accounts or 2) That Samsung invalidates the SNS
Provider's App ID on Facebook or 3) That Samsung used one of its
installed auto-updateable applications to the deliver the update to
SNS Provider requesting the appropriate permission to install it or 4)
That Samsung used its existing app protection/sandboxing technology to
prevent malicious third party apps from accessing the exposed
services. Programa de Seguridad en TIC informed that it would
postpone publication of the advisory to the first week of February
2015 pending further analysis of possible mitigations.
. 2015-1-26: Samsung mobile security team informed that is was talking
to Facebook and Twitter to address the issue and asked to disclose to
them the name of the organization that reported the bugs. It indicated
that it may take another month or so to prepare the invalidation of
the App ID due to the necessary internal QA process.
. 2015-1-27: Programa de Seguridad en TIC agreed to inform Facebook
and Twitter of it's identity and contact info and also requested
precise estimate for a new deadline in order to postpone the publication.
. 2015-2-4: Samsung mobile security team informed they decided to
disable the old App ID from the social network server side (Facebook
and Twitter) since this action would protect user instantly and
notified that the results of this action were being tested. The vendor
said that it expected to take action on February 13th, 2015 but that
it required two additional weeks to get clearance for the disclosure
from their own and SNS vendor's PR departments.
. 2015-2-11: Programa de Seguridad en TIC asked for a status and if
the app was being invalidated on February 13.
. 2015-2-11: Samsung mobile security team informed they where waiting
for the QA team to finish testing.
. 2015-2-13: Samsung mobile security team expected to finish testing
by February 17, 2015 and to invalidate the apps from the server side
once the testing was done successfully.
. 2015-2-14: Programa de Seguridad en TIC rescheduled the publication
to February 18th, 2015 and requested an official statement to include
in the report.
. 2015-2-16: Samsung mobile security team requested to push back
publication of the advisory to March 10, 2015 due to new year
celebrations between 18~22 of February and the need to monitor user
experience for a week after invalidating the app ID and to allow the
Public Relations department to review the statement to be included in
. 2015-2-26: Samsung mobile security team informed that an update was
release on February 17th, 2015 and that they had disabled the old
Twitter App ID. On February 20 it restricted API's for Facebook for
syncing. They also requested a draft of the security advisory.
. 2015-3-3: Programa de Seguridad en TIC sent the report and also
confirmed the mitigations for the now deprecated Facebook and Twitter
app IDs but indicated that since content already downloaded would be
accessible through content provider, users should be advised to update
the application or disable it AND delete all the stored data, and
asked Samsung if fixes for Google+ and Foursquare services were
implemented in SNS Provider on newer devices.
. 2015-3-3: Samsung mobile security team assured that Foursquare
components were disabled in all versions and that now both Google+ and
Foursquare components were being protected by a "signatureOrSystem"
permission. Also that since Google+ API placed restrictions to only
allow public content, a number of the APIs (e.g feeds) were blocked so
no private information could be leaked from the exported service. It
also indicated that although the LinkedIn activity could be launched
by a third party app, SNS Provider does not have the capability to add
an account and it does not store any data.
. 2015-3-10: Programa de Seguridad en TIC sent the final version of
the security advisory to the vendor.
. 2015-3-11: The vendor sent an email asking us to use a common
convention to refer to the application as "SNS Provider". Also
indicated that the advisory was missleading since it confused the
"Samsung Galaxy App", which is a marketplace app similar to Google
Play, with the SNS Provider application and included incorrect
statistics. Requested to correct the error.
. 2015-3-11: Programa de Seguridad en TIC replied that following the
common convention, SNS provider will be used throughout the bulletin.
Regarding, the second comment, indicated that Facebook lists the SNS
Provider app as "Samsung Galaxy" and that's the FAcebook App name the
users are requested to give permissions to. As far as the reporters
knew, the Samsung Galaxy Apps marketplace application is not a
Facebook application and therefore its no listed in teh Facebook Apps
statistics page published by Factets.com. Requested the vendor to
confirm or refute the above explanation as soon as possible.
10. *About Fundacin Dr. Manuel Sadosky*
The Dr. Manuel Sadosky Foundation is a mixed (public / private)
institution whose goal is to promote stronger and closer interaction
between industry and the scientific-technological system in all
aspects related to Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
The Foundation was formally created by a Presidential Decree in 2009.
Its Chairman is the Minister of Science, Technology, and Productive
Innovation of Argentina; and the Vice-chairmen are the chairmen of the
country?s most important ICT chambers: The Software and Computer
Services Chamber (CESSI) and the Argentine Computing and
Telecommunications Chamber (CICOMRA). For more information visit:
11. *Copyright Notice*
The contents of this advisory are copyright (c) 2014 Fundacin Sadosky
and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Share-Alike 4.0 License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
Programa de Seguridad en TIC
Fundacin Dr. Manuel Sadosky
Av. Crdoba 744 Piso 5 Oficina I
Programa de Seguridad en TIC
Fundacin Dr. Manuel Sadosky
Av. Crdoba 744 Piso 5 Oficina I
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