ES File Explorer, File management app for Android, exposes user’s data

More than 300 million users have downloaded this app, so the incident is very serious

ES File Explorer is one of the most popular Android operating system file management applications. It has useful functions like folder sharing, besides it is available for tablets and smartphones, although not everything is good news. Network security and ethical hacking analysts from the International Institute of Cyber Security report that this application runs a hidden server that could leave a device exposed to cyberattacks or data theft.

Nearly 300 million of Android users have downloaded ES File Explorer, which makes it one of the most popular apps in Play Store. Because of this, the vulnerability could affect an incredibly high number of people.

According to an investigation by experts in network security, the ES File Explorer is running a hidden server, which could grant access to any other user connected to the same network at the moment the application starts and connects.  Thus, another user connected to the same network would have access to the files stored in our devices without us noticing the intrusion.

Baptiste Robert, who is in charge of the investigation, claims that this vulnerability exposes any kind of files. “The attacker could access images, videos, applications and even access the memory card”, mentions the network security expert.

Experts highlight that the chances of successfully executing this attack are minimal, as its execution depends on the attacker and the victim being connected to the same network (to the same WiFi connection, basically), in addition to medium skill hacking knowledge. However, researchers do not dismiss any malicious user from developing an application capable of exploiting this vulnerability.

However, it must be taken seriously the fact that ES File Explorer, the most popular file manager of Android, contains a vulnerability that allows the access and theft of the data and files stored in a smartphone. Although, as mentioned, it is a very complex attack that requires the conjunction of multiple variables and ability on the attackers’ side.

Prior to publishing their research, the experts notified the application developers of the vulnerability, but they have not received any response.

Android is the most used operating system in smart devices, which makes it one of the most attacked targets by malicious users. As a precaution, experts in cybersecurity recommend users to only install applications that are in the official store, as well as the option to resort to specific security tools for Android devices, such as antivirus or password management software.