1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Replicant Developers Find Backdoor In Android Samsung Galaxy Devices

Hardware

Published on 12 March 2014 03:47 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
22 Comments

Developers working on Replicant OS, a free and open-source spin of Google's Android operating system, have claimed to uncover a backdoor into the device's file-system for several Samsung Galaxy mobile devices using the stock Android image.

Replicant developers found a back-door to be present in "most proprietary Android systems running on the affected Samsung Galaxy devices, including the ones that are shipped with the devices."

The Replicant developers' research finds "Samsung Galaxy devices running proprietary Android versions come with a back-door that provides remote access to the data stored on the device. In particular, the proprietary software that is in charge of handling the communications with the modem, using the Samsung IPC protocol, implements a class of requests known as RFS commands, that allows the modem to perform remote I/O operations on the phone's storage. As the modem is running proprietary software, it is likely that it offers over-the-air remote control, that could then be used to issue the incriminated RFS messages and access the phone's file system."

Among the known affected devices are the Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy S 3, and Galaxy Note 2. The Galaxy S seems to be in the worse shape with the back-doored program running as root.

For those Samsung Galaxy users there is a back-door sample and steps for investigating and analyzing this issue within a Samsung binary blob. In terms of the legitimacy of the backdoor, the developers believe, "the incriminated RFS messages of the Samsung IPC protocol were not found to have any particular legitimacy nor relevant use-case. However, it is possible that these were added for legitimate purposes, without the intent of doing harm by providing a back-door. Nevertheless, the result is the same and it allows the modem to access the phone's storage."

This Galaxy backdoor issue was passed on this morning by Phoronix reader and Twitter follower bashlog. All of the details for the issue are reported on this Replicant Wiki page that now appears to be a few weeks old but hasn't yet generated any widespread attention to the issue.

Replicant Developers Find Backdoor In Android Samsung Galaxy Devices


Those wishing to avoid this potential back-door from being exploited, Replicant OS doesn't contain this Samsung binary blob. The problem for many though is that Replicant's stable release is still Android 4.2 and based upon CyanogenMod 10.1 rather than catching up with upstream Android 4.4. With removing the phone / tablet binary blobs -- including proprietary firmware -- many of these "supported" Replicant devices do not have working 2D/3D acceleration, GPS, NFC, or even camera support in some cases.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. Scythe Mugen MAX
  2. Intel Core i7 5960X Haswell-E On Linux
  3. Intel 80GB 530 Series M.2 SSD On Linux
  4. With A New Motherboard, The Core i7 5960X Haswell-E Lights Up
Latest Linux Articles
  1. A Tour Of The New Phoronix Office
  2. 7-Way Linux Desktop Gaming Comparison On Ubuntu 14.10
  3. Intel P-State vs. CPUFreq Benchmarks On The i7-5960X
  4. RadeonSI GLAMOR Benchmarks With X.Org Server 1.16
Latest Linux News
  1. openSUSE 13.2 Beta Still Using Btrfs By Default, & KDE Plasma 5 For Testing
  2. GTK+ 3.14 Brings Much Better Wayland Support, Multi-Touch, New Theme
  3. DisplayPort Comes To USB's Type-C Connector
  4. NSS Updated On Ubuntu 12.04/14.04 To Allow Netflix Support
  5. Linux 3.17-rc6 Released; Linux 3.17 Final Might Come In One Week
  6. X.Org Server 1.16.1 Released
  7. Mesa Gets Closer To Having OpenGL 4.0 Tessellation Support
  8. Uselessd: A Stripped Down Version Of Systemd
  9. F2FS Tools Gain FSCK Support
  10. FreeBSD 10.1 Has The New VT Driver, Hardware Improvements
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. NVIDIA GTX 770/780 -works ?
  2. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  3. Uselessd: A Stripped Down Version Of Systemd
  4. State of Nouveau now and in the near future?
  5. X.Org Women Outreach Program Only Turns Up Two Applicants So Far
  6. Wasteland 2 Officially Launched Today, Including For Linux Gamers
  7. Trolling on the Phoronix forums
  8. New stress testing utility for GPU's