Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (2024)

Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (1)

Google’s security research team has discovered some major vulnerabilities in Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones that you’ll want to protect yourself against as soon as you can.

The issues were discovered in the Exynos modems produced by Samsung that are used by a variety of smartphones including the Google Pixel 6, Google Pixel 7, and Samsung Galaxy S22 among others.

As revealed in the Project Zero team’s blog post people using a device that relies on this chip will want to turn off Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE in their device settings in order to protect themselves until a security patch is released. The affected devices are:

  • Samsung's S22, M33, M13, M12, A71, A53, A33, A21, A13, A12 and A04 series phones
  • Vivo's S16, S15, S6, X70, X60 and X30 series phones
  • Google's Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6a, and Pixel 7 phones
  • any wearable with the Exynos W920 chipset
  • any vehicle using the Exynos Auto T5123 chipset

However, not every version of every device is affected. For example, the European Samsung Galaxy S22 uses a vulnerable Exynos modem, but the American version doesn't. But for other devices, like the A53, all versions of that phone use the vulnerable Exynos 1280.

So before turning off Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE you might want to double check your exact model is indeed impacted using Samsung's official information.

How can you protect your phone?

For its part, Google says the March 2023 security update that's been rolled out to Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 phones should patch these issues.

In a statement we received, Samsung told us that it takes its customer's safety seriously and it has released a patch for five of six vulnerabilities impacting select Galaxy devices this month. Another security patch will be coming in April to address the remaining vulnerability, so make sure your device is up to date if you want it to be protected.

Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (2)

In the meantime, you can protect yourself by going into your phone’s Settings. Using the search option look for “Wi-Fi Calling” and you’ll see a toggle to turn it on or off in the Connections sub-menu. If you want your Samsung phone to be secure you’ll want to turn it off, though you’ll then lose access to the feature until you turn it back on.

To turn off Voice-over-LTE, head back to the Connections menu and this time tap on Mobile Networks. You should then see a new list of options and toggles next to “VoLTE calls SIM 1” and “VoLTE calls SIM 2” (though the second option will only appear if you have two SIMs installed). Turn the toggles off and that should mean your phone's protected against the vulnerabilities discovered by Project Zero.

Turning off these features will mean your calls are lower quality, but you should still be able to make calls.

Analysis: Why reveal these flaws?

If these flaws represent serious risks to our devices, why would Google Project Zero reveal them? Wouldn’t it be better to keep them private so hackers don’t know they exist?

Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (3)

Project Zero does keep the most serious of exploits private only sharing them with relevant device manufacturers to ensure that they aren’t abused by bad actors. But for other security vulnerabilities, it can be better to keep a wider net of people in the loop.

For one, there is a way for us to protect ourselves from attacks that take advantage of these vulnerabilities – until a patch is rolled out you can turn off Wi-Fi calling and Voice-over-LTE as we explained above. For another, it’s possible these exploits aren’t too difficult to discover, so by keeping them hidden from the public Project Zero runs the risk of leaving regular folks in the dark while hackers run rampant.

Lastly, revealing the issues should encourage device manufacturers to roll out a patch asap. Now not only is Google’s Project Zero team hounding them to fix the issue, but device owners can also reach out through official forums and contact forms to get their phone maker to fix the problem.

Looking for a phone that's not impacted by this modem issue? Check out our picks for the best phone to find several options that don't rely on the affected Exynos modem.

Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (4)

Hamish Hector

Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.

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Your Samsung phone may have a big security flaw – here's how to stay safe (2024)


What are signs my Samsung phone has been hacked? ›

Signs of hacking generally include Calls/Messages you did not make, unrecognised Apps, High Data usage (though that can be due to other reasons) and major Battery Drain .

How can I make my Samsung phone more secure? ›

Here are some more tips to protect your device and keep it malware-free:
  1. Only download apps from the Play Store or Galaxy Store, which verifies the safety of all apps.
  2. We do not recommend using third-party anti-malware apps.
  3. Keep your device's software and operating system up to date.

Do Samsung phones have security issues? ›

Several vulnerabilities have been identified in Samsung Mobile Android versions 11, 12, 13, and 14. One notable vulnerability allows attackers to exploit the system, potentially leading to information theft, code execution, and device compromise.

Should I turn on device protection on my Samsung? ›

Security. It's important to keep your device secure from any threats to your data. Fortunately, Samsung devices are full of security features such as Samsung Knox. The Battery and device care app is partnered with security experts McAfee to help scan your device for malware and suspicious activity.

What is the secret code to see if your phone is hacked? ›

##4636## or ##197328640## ➡️ To Check Unknown Connections (Android) If you're concerned someone has installed malware or spyware on your Android phone, these codes open up a screen that lists all running processes and services.

Can hackers see your screen? ›

Can a hacker access my computer camera, microphone, and screen? Yes. Cybercriminals use malware like spyware to remotely access and control your camera, microphone, and screen.

What is the most secure way to lock your phone? ›

Passcodes, PINs, passphrases and patterns act as the core defence to any biometric methods of unlocking your phone. But these options aren't all equally secure. While none of the security methods are completely fool proof, the passcode or PIN seems to be the best defence against attackers wanting to access your phone.

Which Samsung phone is most secure? ›

Samsung's flagship device comes with Samsung Knox, a defense-grade security platform that protects your device from malware and unauthorized access. With regular security updates and biometric authentication options, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a secure choice.

How do I clean my Samsung phone from viruses? ›

How to get rid of a virus from an Android phone
  1. Clear your cache and downloads. Open Settings, go to Apps & notifications, and select Chrome. ...
  2. Restart your Android device in safe mode. ...
  3. Find and remove malicious apps. ...
  4. Activate Google Play Protect. ...
  5. Install anti-malware software.
Jan 24, 2024

Which Samsung phones are under threat? ›

Crucially, the impacted Samsung Mobile Android versions comprise 11, 12, 13, and 14. Vulnerable devices include widely-used models like the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, and others. Promptly apply security updates. Ensure that apps are kept up to date.

What is the government issue warning for Samsung phones? ›

CERT-In has issued a high-risk warning for users regarding multiple vulnerabilities, with Note CIVN-2023-0360, highlighting critical security issues in phones running Android versions 11, 12, 13 and 14. Samsung's flagship smartphone series, the Galaxy S23, has got the Android 14 update.

What is the high-risk alert on Samsung phones? ›

The Indian government's CERT-In (Computer Emergency Response Team) has issued a high-risk warning for Samsung mobile phone users, urging them to update their devices immediately. This alert highlights critical security vulnerabilities affecting Android versions 11, 12, 13, and 14, putting millions of users at risk.

How to secure your Samsung phone? ›

Lock screen: Create a PIN, Pattern, or Password for your device to restrict entry and protect your data. Tap Lock screen, then tap Screen lock, and then select your desired option. Follow the on-screen instructions to set it up.

Do Samsung phones need antivirus? ›

Do Android phones need antivirus? While Android has built-in security features that help to protect against malware and other security threats, it may still be a good idea for users to install a reputable Android antivirus app on their device.

Is McAfee free with Samsung phones? ›

Flagship Samsung smartphones, including the sensational Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, Galaxy S21 series and the latest Galaxy A series come pre-installed with McAfee anti-malware protection.

Can you check to see if your phone is hacked? ›

There are other signs of a hacked phone, such as reduced screenshot quality, unusually high data usage, and apps crashing randomly. If you notice any of these signs, you can take immediate steps to protect your device by downloading a security tool that can scan your device for risks and remediate threats.

Can I run a test to see if my phone is hacked? ›

Fortunately, there's a code (netmonitor code) that helps you identify whether or not you're being tracked or tapped. To confirm this, dial any of the codes below for your phone's operating system: For Android devices, dial: *#*#197328640#*#* or *#*#4636#*#* For iPhones, dial: *3001#12345#*

Can you tell if someone has remote access to your phone? ›

How to tell if someone is accessing your phone remotely? If you believe that someone has access to your Android phone screen, look for strange activities, such as apps running in the background, and evaluate the permissions granted to each app on your phone.

What Samsung phones are being hacked? ›

CERT India warns all Samsung mobiles come with Android 11,12,13 and 14 is vulnerable to get hacked because of serious security flaws found in Samsung devices. Samsung boast for their Knox security but a serious kind of security flaw detected in Knox security.

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