Bought a new Android phone? What if I say your brand new smartphone can be hacked remotely?
Nearly all Android phones come with useless applications pre-installed by manufacturers or carriers, usually called bloatware, and there’s nothing you can do if any of them has a backdoor built-in—even if you’re careful about avoiding sketchy apps.
That’s exactly what security researchers from mobile security firm Kryptowire demonstrated at the DEF CON security conference on Friday.
Researchers disclosed details of 47 different vulnerabilities deep inside the firmware and default apps (pre-installed and mostly non-removable) of 25 Android handsets that could allow hackers to spy on users and factory reset their devices, putting millions of Android devices at risk of hacking.
At least 11 of those vulnerable smartphones are manufactured by companies including Asus, ZTE, LG, and the Essential Phone, and being distributed by US carriers like Verizon and AT&T.
Other major Android handset brands include Vivo, Sony, Nokia, and Oppo, as well as many smaller manufacturers such as Sky, Leagoo, Plum, Orbic, MXQ, Doogee, Coolpad, and Alcatel.
Some vulnerabilities discovered by researchers could even allow hackers to execute arbitrary commands as the system user, wipe all user data from a device, lock users out of their devices, access device’s microphone and other functions, access all their data, including their emails and messages, read and modify text messages, sending text messages, and more—all without the users’ knowledge.