Samsung plugs security hole in Galaxy smartphones

Popularity of Samsung smartphones could translate into BYOD security threats

Samsung sent out software updates last week to fix a security flaw found in its popular Galaxy-branded Android smartphones containing the Exynos processor.

The vulnerability enables hackers to install malicious applications, carry out kernel code injections, and read the device's random-access memory and physical memory, according a blog by security firm Kaspersky Lab.

On Wednesday, Samsung pushed a software update for  Galaxy S III users in the United Kingdom to fix the Exynos 4 vulnerability, according to the SamMobile website. The site said it expects Samsung to send updates to users in other countries soon.

Samsung acknowledged the flaw last month in statement sent to the Android Central website. "Samsung is aware of the potential security issue related to the Exynos processor and plans to provide a software update to address it as quickly as possible. The issue may arise only when a malicious application is operated on the affected devices; however, this does not affect most devices operating credible and authenticated applications," the company said.

The software update also apparently fixes a bootloader problem known as the "sudden death" issue, which causes Galaxy phones to shut off for no reason, according to SamMobile. "We can't confirm if sudden death issue has been resolved or not as Samsung is the only one who can confirm about the fix," the site added.

The Samsung Galaxy S III is the most popular smartphone in the world, according to the latest stats from Strategy Analytics. Samsung shipped 18 million Galaxy S IIIs in the third quarter, more than triple the number in the second quarter, giving the model 10.7 percent of the smartphone market.

A Strategy Analytics analyst recently told Reuters that the Samsung will widen its lead over Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in the smartphone market in 2013. The research firm projects that Samsung will sell 290 million smartphones this year, up from 215 million in 2012, or a 35 percent increase. Apple's smartphone sales are projected to reach 180 million this year, up 33 percent from last year. This will give Samsung a 33 percent share of the 2013 smartphone market, while Apple will hold 21 percent of the market.

The popularity of Samsung in the consumer market should translate into popularity in the BYOD market, as employees bring the new smartphones to the office. Security flaws in the Galaxy smartphones that enable hackers to install malware and read data on the device's memory should be of major concern to IT administrators.

For more:
- see Kaspersky Lab's blog
- check out the SamMobile website
- read the Reuters interview

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