May 30, 2015

Samsung Smartphone Hacking Risk

samsung hack

I know it’s incredibly shocking, but yet another series of smart phones have demonstrated themselves to be vulnerable to yet another hacking risk.   While this risk is relatively limited, it does potentially impact 600 million Samsung smartphones, a representative confirmed Tuesday, June 16th.

Which Phones?

Currently involved in the hacking warning are the over 600 million Samsung Galaxy S3-S6 models as well as a couple Samsung Note models, to name a few.  Of course, the Galaxy is Samsung’s most popular model, and because this security flaw impacts the S3-S6 models, it is an issue that went undetected for quite a while.

However, that’s not to say it went unexploited, which has users concerned.

How to get Hacked

Fortunately, this particular hacking method requires little short of a convergence of the stars to make it a feasible threat.  It has to do with a loophole in the SwiftKey keyboard, and it requires both a compromised (or deliberately malicious, we know they’re out there) wi-fi source and for the SwiftKey keyboard to be concurrently updating the language pack.

For most people who use the standard, included language pack on their phone, this is something that will never come up.  Even those who update their language pack will have no issues provided they do so on a trusted, secure wi-fi network.

Biggest Issue

samsung galaxy techThe biggest overall issue is that the program that opens the door for potential hacking is something that can’t be removed or uninstalled.  This means there’s no way for owners/users to totally mitigate their risk of this particular hack.  Fortunately, though, as it requires such an obscure corresponding set of conditions to even be possible, the chances of you being targeted by a hacker at the same moment as the stars align is slim to none.

If someone does manage to get into your phone’s system, however, the compromised app does have some serious system privileges.  Hackers who crack the space/time continuum to access your phone’s systems through this loophole will be doing so as privileged users, and therefore have all of the access that this status conveys.  In a nutshell, nothing is safe if they do manage to get through.

Laughed Off

While this vulnerability is news-worthy and something that Samsung felt the need to bring to consumer’s attentions, it is not something they’re overly concerned about.  Indeed, most owners and consumers simply aren’t worried and laughed off the warnings in the blogosphere.

Samsung has promised to issue an update to correct the flaw in the near future.  However, many believe that the efforts are unlikely to make much difference as users will have to get their updates from carriers, who are notoriously slow to distribute these types of patches.