No hacks from key­board glitch, Sam­sung says

Los Angeles Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Daina Beth Solomon

Sam­sung said Fri­day that no hacks have been re­ported af­ter a tech se­cu­rity firm re­ported 600 mil­lion Gal­axy smart­phones had a prob­lem­atic key­board.

The South Korean tech gi­ant did not dis­pute the re­port from Now Se­cure and pledged to roll out se­cu­rity up­dates in the next few days to “in­val­i­date any po­ten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.”

It also sought to as­sure cus­tomers that hack­ing, while not im­pos­si­ble, would re­quire a spe­cific set of con­di­tions.

“The like­li­hood of mak­ing a suc­cess­ful at­tack, ex­ploit­ing this vul­ner­a­bil­ity, is low,” the com­pany said.

The risk comes from the key­board soft­ware pro­grammed into Gal­axy S6, S5, S4 and S4 mini-mod­els, ac­cord­ing to Now Se­cure. The sys­tem can by­pass se­cu­rity re­stric­tions, giv­ing hack­ers ac­cess to data.

Hack­ers who take ad­van­tage of the key­board soft­ware, de­vel­oped by Swift Key, could re­motely in­stall ma­li­cious apps, eaves­drop on calls and at­tempt to re­trieve pic­tures and text mes­sages, ac­cord­ing to Now Se­cure.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the flawed key­board app can’t be unin­stalled. Also, it isn’t easy for the Sam­sung mo­bile de­vice user to tell if the car­rier has patched the prob­lem with a soft­ware up­date,” Now Se­cure said on its web­site.

Now Se­cure said it in­formed Sam­sung of the risk in De­cem­ber, and the com­pany re­sponded by pro­vid­ing a se­cu­rity patch to mo­bile net­works early this year.

But Now Se­cure ques­tioned the suc­cess of the mea­sure, writ­ing on its web­site: “It is un­known if the car­ri­ers have pro­vided the patch to the de­vices on their net­work. In ad­di­tion, it is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine how many mo­bile de­vice users re­main vul­ner­a­ble, given the de­vice’s mod­els and num­ber of net­work op­er­a­tors glob­ally.”

What can users do as Sam­sung ratch­ets up its se­cu­rity ef­forts? Don’t use un­se­cured wire­less net­works, sug­gests Now Se­cure. To be com­pletely safe, use another phone.

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