A simple hack that can reportedly temporarily brick “most” Samsung smartphones has appeared online.
The theoretical hack was reported by French security researcher Robert Baptisteon Monday (UK time). The researcher, who goes by the moniker @fs0c131y on Twitter, claimed to have successfully created a proof of concept attack targeting a flaw in Samsung phones Knox security service.
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“In this Proof Of Concept (POC), I send these 2 intents every second. Moreover, after opening this app the [first] time, the app icon will disappear,” Baptisteon explained in a blog post.
“As a consequence, the device will be inoperable due to this local DoS. Every time the victim will open the SecureFolder app, the container will be locked and every time he will try to use his phone, the phone will come back directly to the first page of the launcher.”
There’s currently no evidence if the flaw is being actively targeted by hackers in the wild and at the time of publishing Samsung hadn’t responded to Trusted Reviews request for comment.
Even if it is being targeted, there is an easy fix. According to Baptisete all you have to reboot any afflicted device in safe mode. This is done by holding the volume down button during the reboot process. Any attack targeting it would also require you the user to install a malicious app, so it’s impact would be fairly limited on most consumers.
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Knox is a security service designed for businesses that was rolled out on the Galaxy S4 many moons ago. It’s a secure container technology that lets businesses separate and secure business apps installed on work phones.
Security has been a constant concern on Android. This is largely because, unlike Apple’s iOS, Google’s OS is fairly fragmented. According to Google’s latest Android activation figures just 10.4 percent of all Android phones run the latest Pie version of the OS. This makes it difficult for the company to patch new vulnerabilities as it has to work with multiple different code bases.