Samsung Galaxy S III’s — and Android’s — remote wipeout problem

The Galaxy S III is a hot seller of a smartphone. Earlier this month, Samsung said it had sold 20 million of the Android-based phones in three months, which means quite a few users could be affected by a vulnerability that allows the phone — and, it seems, others — to be remotely wiped.

By exploiting a flaw in Android’s dialer software, hackers could trick the phone’s users into clicking on a Web link that could trigger a factory reset of the phone. The Telegraph reported on the discovery of the flaw by a Berlin-based security researcher earlier this week.

Reports about the security issue say Samsung has already issued a security patch for the flaw, but Android phone updates vary by wireless carrier. The Sydney Morning Herald has compiled a list of supposedly affected handsets and software versions; they include phones and tablets made by HTC, Motorola and others, although HTC tells the Guardian its handsets are not vulnerable to the exploit. GMSV has asked Samsung which devices are still vulnerable and will update this post if the company responds.

“The bottom line here is this: get into the habit of backing up your phone,” Paul Ducklin of Sophos told the Guardian.


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