There is a serious security issue that is faulting Samsung’s mobile line, as well as that of phablets.
The issue was first discovered in 2014 by Ryan Welton who is working for Now Secure, a company specialized in mobile security and it refers to a security breach that can affect the Samsung devices through a default keyboard.
Despite the best efforts of Android phone manufacturers to bring their products up to date in a market that raises security and privacy questions increasingly often, Samsung is reported to have unwillingly left a gate for seasoned hackers to break into as many as 600 million Samsung mobile devices.
All encryption efforts went down the water when the SwiftKey which is preinstalled on all Samsung mobile devices started searching for language update packs over unencrypted lines.
For Ryan Welton that was an opportunity to fully explore the implications of this gate. He created a spoof proxy and used it to send security updates to devices coming with the preinstalled SwiftKey. The goal of the malicious updates was to see to what extent they open gates for fully exploiting the Samsung devices without leaving any noticeable trace to the user.
It turned out that in the hands of seasoned crackers, the users of Samsung mobile devices are stripped naked of any private data, from commonplace photos to bank account data, text messages and all the paraphernalia hosted on the device, without them ever knowing.
To this extent, Welton announced Korea-based Samsung of the SwiftKey weakness he had found in November of the previous year. In return Samsung replied that a patch was delivered to address the problem and it reached carriers in March. The patch applied to any device supported by Android 4.2 and beyond.
However, NowSecure believes that the Samsung devices are still in a vulnerable spot. While the weakness features on all devices from Samsung Galaxy S3 to S6, as well as on Galaxy Note 3 and 4, a new test was conducted on Samsung Galaxy S6 from carrier Verizon.
The test was replicated during the London-based Blackhat Security Summit. A statement coming from the spokesperson of NowSecure concludes the testing:
“We can confirm that we have found the flaw still unpatched on the Galaxy S6 for the Verizon and Sprint networks, in off the shelf tests we did over the past couple of days”.
Samsung mobile users are urged caution when purchasing a new device or in handling the ones they already own.
SoftKey cannot be uninstalled. Thus, the best approach would be to ask the carriers about the network, their security levels and consequently about a Samsung patch that could solve the issue.
Image Source: cnet.com