Posts Tagged ‘bug’

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Major Android vulnerability for Samsung Galaxy phones (and others)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

There is a major risk to lose all your data when you’re using the internet with your Samsung Galaxy phone. Your phone will reset.

You can test here to see if your vulnerable: USSD-Android-vulnerability.html It will show your IMEI number on the phone, when you’re vulnerable. Just open the page with your mobile phone.

Contrary to what you have read somewhere else, the vulnerability doesn’t need you to click anything, loading a page (with malicious advertisements) can be enough. Some advice say that you should read all links carefully. Nonsense, that won’t help.

This bug is also called the Android Reset bug or Android Wipe bug.

Workaround / Solution

Please install this app to secure yourself ASAP.

`TelStop` will do nothing, just ask you what to do, and prevent the default dangerous handling.


The vulnerability is caused by automatic handling of so called USSD `tel` URI by the dialer system. USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) can display certain information, like your IMEI number or perform specific special features like a Factory Reset (loss of all your data).

Just adding this code to any website can trigger the bug:

<iframe src="tel:123"></iframe>

It isn’t limited to the `tel` URI, also `callto:123` can be used in some browsers, e.g. Opera browsers.

With JavaScript any link can be infected, so it’s a real danger.

It isn’t a browser or Android bug, it’s a bug in TouchWizz, Samsungs own interface layer. Apparently HTC and Motorola made the same mistake.

On a Samsung Galaxy S 2.3.6 phone all tested browsers were vulnerable, stock browser, Firefox, Dolphin, Opera Mobile, Opera Mini.

In the latest firmware (4.0.4) for the Samsung Galaxy III the bug was patched, apparently Samsung was aware of the bug for some time.

Reported Vulnerable phones

(This list is incomplete, sometimes it depends of firmware version)

  • Samsung Galaxy S (Android 2.3.6)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (any firmware below 4.0.4)
  • Samsung Galaxy Gio
  • Samsung Galaxy Advance
  • HTC One X (HTC Sense 4.0 on Android 4.0.3)
  • HTC Desire
  • Motorola Defy (Android 2.3.5)
  • Sony Xperia Active
  • Sony Xperia Arc S

Please add a comment with your phone model if your experience this bug too, and don’t forget to install the workaround.

updated 27/9  sony phones added