Samsung Preps Fix For Vicious Keyboard Exploit Affecting 600 Million Galaxy Smartphones

Following reports that 600 million Samsung phones are vulnerable to a security flaw that could allow an attacker to remotely execute code as a privileged/system user, the South Korean handset maker said a fix is on the way. Samsung also downplayed the severity of the situation, saying that the exploit "requires a very specific set of conditions" in order for hackers to do any harm.

The vulnerability exists in the pre-installed keyboard on millions of Samsung phones, including the company's flagship Galaxy S6. It's a customized version of SwiftKey that Samsung includes on its devices. Unfortunately, users are unable to uninstall the custom plank, and even if they use a different keyboard, a hacker can still weasel through the security hole.

Galaxy S6

Samsung says the likelihood of successful attack is low since the user and hacker have to physically be on the same unprotected network while downloading a language update. In addition, KNOX-protected devices have other safeguards in place, such as real-time kernel protection.

"There have been no reported customer cases of Galaxy devices being compromised through these keyboard updates. But as the reports indicate, the risk does exist and Samsung will roll out a security policy update in the coming days," Samsung said. "In addition to the security policy update, we will continue to work with related parties such as SwiftKey to address potential risks going forward."

Samsung asks that Galaxy owners make sure their devices are set to automatically receive security policy updates. They can do that by heading to Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Other Security Settings > Security policy updates and ensuring the Automatic Updates option is activated.