Uh-oh. It appears that hackers can break into any Galaxy smartphone from Samsung, and pry into the owner's private information. This is possible through a vulnerability in Galaxy devices' software which allows hackers to look through the camera, listen to the microphone, install mobile apps, and even view incoming and outgoing text messages. Until the South Korean phone maker offers a solution to this vulnerability, Galaxy users have no choice but to avoid connecting to unsafe Wi-Fi networks.
As reported by the Independent, the problem lies in Samsung's IME keyboard, which is a revised version of SwiftKey that the tech giant incorporated in the keyboards of most Galaxy devices. From time to time, this software sends an inquiry to a server for new updates, but hackers can easily intercept that request, disguise themselves as the server, and then send harmful code to the device.
The nasty thing about this vulnerability is that even if Samsung Galaxy owners do not use their keyboards, the software will still be making the inquiries. Interestingly, Android devices that use SwiftKey do not seem to have the same issue, which means that the ones affected are likely those that use Samsung's repackaged version of the SwiftKey software. SwiftKey itself has stated that it did not detect the issue in the software it has made available for downloading for Android or iOS handsets.
Sure, there are security protocols usually put in place to halt hackers from doing server request interceptions. This is done by having the requests encrypted, and then establishing barriers against any incoming potentially malicious code. However, with Samsung's own version of the software, it had provided special permissions, essentially giving hackers an easy way in. Staying away from unsecure Wi-Fi networks helps, but it is only really a band aid solution. Hackers can still access messages when users are doing their usual browsing of texts.
According to the Independent story, researchers have confirmed that the vulnerability is present in the two newest Samsung flagship devices, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, as well as in the Galaxy S4 Mini. There is a real possibility that the same issue is also there in other Galaxy phones considering that the same keyboard software is installed in those handsets.
Samsung is said to have given a temporary fix to wireless carriers who will be deploying the updates themselves. Having said that, it often takes some time before these networks can roll out the said updates, which means that some users may have to do some waiting.
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