A nine-year-old critical vulnerability has been discovered in virtually all versions of the Linux operating system and is actively being exploited in the wild.
Dubbed "Dirty COW," the Linux kernel security flaw (CVE-2016-5195) is a mere privilege-escalation vulnerability, but researchers are taking it extremely seriously due to many reasons.
First, it's very easy to develop exploits that work reliably. Secondly, the Dirty COW flaw exists in a section of the Linux kernel, which is a part of virtually every distro of the open-source operating system, including RedHat, Debian, and Ubuntu, released for almost a decade.
And most importantly, the researchers have discovered attack code that indicates the Dirty COW vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild.
Dirty COW potentially allows any installed malicious app to gain administrative (root-level) access to a device and completely hijack it.