Security alert: Attackers can remotely exploit a software-based backdoor -- present in at least nine different models of Samsung smartphones and tablets -- to steal files and location data or surreptitiously activate a microphone or camera.
That warning was sounded Wednesday by members of the Replicant project, which builds free versions of Android to replace the proprietary versions installed by most carriers and manufacturers.
Replicant researchers said they found that the radio modems on some Samsung devices will execute remote file system (RFS) commands. "We discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a back door that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system," said Replicant developer Paul Kocialkowski in a blog post on the Free Software Foundation site.
"This program is shipped with the Samsung Galaxy devices and makes it possible for the modem to read, write, and delete files on the phone's storage," he added. "On several phone models, this program runs with sufficient rights to access and modify the user's personal data."
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