Bug allows complete lock screen bypass on Samsung Galaxy S III

Following a brief lock screen bypass that had 'limited scope', another Samsung owner has found that the lock screen on Galaxy S III handsets can be bypassed completely.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Following claims that the lock screen in the Galaxy Note II can be briefly bypassed, another Samsung owner has stepped up to claim that the bug goes much farther, and can allow full access to the device.

In a separate post on the Full Disclosure mailing list, Sean McMillian posted a variation on the method that the original discoverer of the bug, Terence Eden, had used to briefly access the home screen on his Galaxy Note II.

Instead of launching an application on the home screen, McMillian wrote that if an attacker locks the screen and then unlocks it again, the bug would allow full access to the phone.

McMillian also tested the device on three separate Galaxy S III devices, highlighting that the issue is likely more related to Samsung's software, rather than a widespread Android issue.

ZDNet was able to confirm the complete bypass on an S3 running Android 4.1.2, although the timing to replicate the issue is very small and difficult to replicate at first. Once bypassed, the bug appears to persist, even when the phone's screen is turned back off, no longer challenging the user for their PIN, password, or pattern.

ZDNet's tests on a Galaxy Note II running Android 4.1.1 confirmed the earlier brief bypass, but we could not replicate the complete bypass bug on this device.

Samsung has still not returned ZDNet's earlier requests to comment.

Eden also previously claimed to have contacted several Samsung relationship mangers and emailed the company directly, but after not hearing anything back for five days, he decided to release the information publicly.

For those wanting to verify whether their own devices are vulnerable, McMillian's instructions are as follows:

  1. On the code entry screen, press Emergency Call

  2. Press Emergency Contacts

  3. Press the Home button once

  4. Just after pressing the Home button, press the power button quickly

  5. If successful, pressing the power button again will bring you to the S3's home screen.

The flaw comes shortly after it was revealed that the lock screen in iOS 6.1 can be completely bypassed, again using the emergency call feature.

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