MediaTek-based Android phones vulnerable to weird SMS hack

MediaTek-based Android phones vulnerable to weird SMS hack
A new discovery by blogger Korben suggests that many MediaTek-based Android phones are susceptible to the strangest of hacks. All it takes to remotely reboot some unlucky user's phone is to text them the symbol '='. In MediaTek chipset language, this symbol apparently equals "shutdown and reboot". Korben demonstrated the vulnerability in the video below. 

If you are unfortunate enough to get spammed with exploitative messages, you could have your phone rendered unusable.

Some popular Alcatel handsets, such as the One Touch Idol X, Idol Ultra, 997D, Pop C3, S-Pop, and Star, have been confirmed as vulnerable.To find out whether your MediaTek-based phone gets lured by the trick, text yourself '=' without the quotes. If you end up rebooting, fear not - simply change your default messaging app to something other than the default one.

Hopefully the flaw doesn't end up bigger than what it currently is, otherwise hackers will have a field day with the majority of Chinese phones.


via Neowin

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23 Comments

1. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

This is why I don't trust cheap Chinese companies like MediaTek. Qualcomm or any other reputable company would never let something like this happen...

2. SeanContra

Posts: 82; Member since: Mar 24, 2014

Uhhh..... Okay, I'm not even gonna try. Whatever makes you happy, man :)

6. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Whats wrong with that anyway, he's right.

9. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

All hardware/software has vulnerabilities somewhere. You are a fool to think that your safe from things like this just because you use a CPU made by a brand with a higher reputation.

10. WahyuWisnu

Posts: 1001; Member since: May 29, 2014

@Shatter... AGREE!!! When a good company like qualcom have this kind of bug, people will 'understand', but when 'second grade' company like mediatek did it, people will scream 'told you'.... and (some of) this people saying they rooted for underdog .... what a shame.

23. SeanContra

Posts: 82; Member since: Mar 24, 2014

Aww man, I missed the fun bit. Good points there, Shatter and WahyuWisnu :D I was just busy for worked so I "w/e"-ed it :P Well said, sirs.

7. superfans

Posts: 155; Member since: Jul 30, 2012

A lot if electronic gadgets like your laptop , desktop , tablet and phone have a little MediaTek inside , just like how iFans hate Samsung but cant denial the fact that Samsung is inside of many electronic gadgets just like MediaTek , no matter how you trust it or not.

11. WahyuWisnu

Posts: 1001; Member since: May 29, 2014

they might be forgeting the intel pentium bug.

3. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

This is going to be fun hehehe>:)

15. WahyuWisnu

Posts: 1001; Member since: May 29, 2014

just as fun as the apple OS X bug on file:///

19. xche78x

Posts: 101; Member since: Mar 11, 2014

i can foresee you messing with your friends who uses mediatek phones, sending them the = text while they are doing stuff on their phones like casual gaming etc boom restart

4. vuyonc

Posts: 1090; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Lolwut

5. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Thats what happens when a Third tier company makes mediocre quality chipsets, snapdragons are arguably the best.

12. WahyuWisnu

Posts: 1001; Member since: May 29, 2014

I agree that snapdragon is the best, I don't buy any other phone than snapdragon phone, but that doesn't make mediatek a bad company. each product has it's own bug/weakness. If it wasn't for mediatek, maybe the SD will be more expensive, and your snapdragon 400 MotoG will be US$400 and yours snapdragon S4 Google Nexus 7 (2013) will be US$500.

21. renz4

Posts: 319; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

their hardware no doubt among the best but it doesn't mean they are free from problem like what happen right now on mediatek http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTcyODU

8. wax33

Posts: 45; Member since: Apr 06, 2014

Takes an idiot to believe a SoC would reboot when it copies a specific byte.

13. micmic9999

Posts: 21; Member since: Jan 03, 2012

i tried sending = to my Xiaomi Redmi/Hongmi phone using another Xiaomi Redmi and Xperia Z2 and it did no restart the phone. :)

17. xche78x

Posts: 101; Member since: Mar 11, 2014

why do that on the z2? it uses snapdragon 801 not mediatek. xiaomi also customizes their gui heavily so they probably changed the default messaging app on the redmi...

22. SeanContra

Posts: 82; Member since: Mar 24, 2014

Try Xperia C. I did. It worked wonderfully :D

14. justsayit

Posts: 256; Member since: May 09, 2013

so what will happen if phone rebooted? one of my phone which powered by mtk soc get reboot when recieve the text

18. xche78x

Posts: 101; Member since: Mar 11, 2014

nothing it just reboots if you follow the very simple instruction, but for techies with twisted minds this exploit could be enhanced and they can probably use this exploit as base and take control of your phone in the future if the issue is not fixed by mediatek...

20. WahyuWisnu

Posts: 1001; Member since: May 29, 2014

or, if your phone hang, just ask a friend to send '=' lol

16. micmic9999

Posts: 21; Member since: Jan 03, 2012

i have tried to text any Cherry Mobile phone brand and the hack worked '=' will restart the phone - this could really cause annoyance if you keep on texting the '=' sign and your phone kept on rebooting.

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