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Science
09 Aug 2018

Your Samsung Galaxy S7 might be vulnerable to hacking

Researchers from Austria's Graz Technical University have uncovered a microchip security flaw in Samsung Galaxy S7 phones that puts tens of millions of users at risk to hacking.

Called Meltdown, the security flaw affecting most modern microchips was uncovered earlier this year by Google researchers.

Prior to the Graz team's discovery, Samsung phones were thought to be immune to Meltdown.

Here's all about it.

In context

Researchers find security vulnerability in Samsung Galaxy S7
Researchers expect to find many more vulnerable devices

Details

Researchers expect to find many more vulnerable devices

Breaking the myth of Samsung's immunity to Meltdown, researchers from Graz told Reuters that they had found a way to exploit the vulnerability and attack Galaxy S7 handsets.

The team's findings will be released at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Currently, the team is looking into how Meltdown affects other smartphones, and expects to find many more vulnerable devices.

Samsung's response

Samsung has reportedly successfully patched the vulnerability

Responding to the team's findings, Samsung said that it "takes security very seriously", and had rolled out patches in January and July to prevent Meltdown from affecting Galaxy S7 phones.

A Samsung spokeswoman added that there had been no reported cases of Meltdown being exploited to attack Galaxy S7 devices.

Meanwhile, CNET confirmed with the researchers that Samsung had successfully patched the vulnerability.

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Unpatched devices remain at risk of being hacked

Risk

Unpatched devices remain at risk of being hacked

Yet, while Samsung has reportedly rolled out effective patches, millions of Galaxy S7 remain at potential risk.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, some 30 million odd people in the world use Samsung Galaxy S7 devices, and it would be fallacious to assume that all 30 million devices are up-to-date with Samsung's patches.

In case yours isn't, install all pending patches.

Chip flaws

Throwback: Researchers found security flaws in modern microchips

In January, researchers from Google's Project Zero, along with other experts, discovered two security flaws in modern microchips which put almost all phones and computers at risk.

The first, called Meltdown, affects Intel chips and has the potential to let hackers read a computer's memory and steal passwords.

The second, called Spectre affects Intel, AMD, and ARM chips, lets hackers steal information from apps.

Google's revelations had rocked the tech industry

Impact

Google's revelations had rocked the tech industry

While there have been no reported or known cases of hackers exploiting either Meltdown or Spectre in a real-world attack, Google's revelations rocked the tech industry, forcing chipmakers and device manufacturers to go into damage-control mode.

In March, Intel said that it had redesigned its latest 8th-generation processors to make them immune to the vulnerabilities, and said 100% of vulnerable devices had been patched.

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