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OnePlus preinstalls app that can be used as a backdoor

With just days left before its final hurrah for the year, OnePlus seems to be involved yet again in a controversy surrounding privacy and security. No, it is not a rehash of last months data collection scandal. This one is potentially more harmful, especially since OnePlus itself may be unaware of its existence until now. The startup apparently left a diagnostic app preinstalled on its smartphones since the OnePlus 3 that, with just some simple nudging, can be used to gain root access to the device, with or without the users knowledge.

To be fair to OnePlus, the app in question is not even made by the company. It is, instead, Qualcomms EngineerMode, which the chip maker provides OEMs to test their processors on devices. As one can imagine, it is not meant for consumers use and OnePlus fault is that it did not remove the app before it shipped the OnePlus phones.

As a diagnostic app, EngineerMode has a few tricks to gain entry into parts of the file system and OS functionality unavailable to most apps. Curiously, it had the power to run ADB, the Android Debug Bridge tool, as root, which would then allow it to practically do anything. And while access to that is blocked by a password, it did not take too long for skilled developers to figure that out.

This means that Qualcomms EngineerMode app, which comes pre-installed in all OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5 phones running the default OxygenOS, acts as a backdoor that could let anyone gain root access or root the phone fully. Twitter user fs0c131y, who discovered the app, intends to release a proof-of-concept app that will do just that.

On the one hand, it does mean that it will be dead simple to root those three OnePlus phones without even having to unlock the bootloader. On the other hand, it is a security nightmare waiting to happen, and users are better off having this closed quickly and using tried and testing, not to mention safer, rooting methods instead.
Posted by Huitzilopochtli
Source : Unknown
Tuesday 14 November 2017