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Galaxy Note II security flaw lets intruders gain full device access

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Intruders can gain full access to a locked Galaxy Note II due to a bug in the device's lockscreen, developer Terence Eden has discovered. A flaw in the emergency dialer allows intruders to interact with the device, and ultimately disable the lockscreen permanently. Eden discovered the flaw on a Galaxy Note II running Android 4.1.2, and we've been able to confirm the issue on an AT&T version of the device running Android 4.1.1. We did not find the issue present on stock Android or a Galaxy S III.

This is the second lockscreen flaw on a Galaxy device this month

Eden's method requires patience, but it can be accomplished within a matter of minutes. After hitting the back button to leave the emergency dialer, the Galaxy Note II briefly flashes the device's last used screen. Certain actions can extend the length of that flash for long enough to briefly interact with the device, generally a single tap at a time. It's enough, however, to navigate into the Play Store, download an app that removes the lockscreen, and activate that application. Eden reports notifying Samsung of the issue in February, and that it is working on a patch that should be released shortly. Samsung declined his offer to wait longer before publicly disclosing the flaw.

This is the third major lockscreen vulnerability discovered in a popular smartphone since February. Both previous flaws also involved taking advantage of an error stemming from the emergency dialer. One flaw temporarily bypassed the lockscreen of an iPhone running iOS 6.1, and has since been fixed. The other vulnerability disabled the lockscreen on a Galaxy S III. Samsung issued us this statement on this issue: "Samsung considers user privacy and the security of user data its top priority. We are aware of this issue and will release a fix at the earliest possibility."