Samsung Galaxy S III flaw bypasses lock screen (again)

Samsung Galaxy S III flaw bypasses lock screen (again)
Several days ago, a flaw in the Samsung Galaxy S III interface was discovered allowing access to the phone's home screen even when a PIN or pattern lock screen was enabled. That hack, however, didn't seem as much of a threat given how little time one had to actually do something naughty with the targeted device. Yet now, another vulnerability that works in a similar fashion has been found and it pretty much bypasses the lock screen indefinitely. And that's a pretty serious privacy concern.

Here's how the hack works: from the lock screen press the "Emergency Call" button at the bottom. Then quickly press the emergency contacts button (bottom left), then the home button and then the lock key. If done properly, the next time the lock key is pressed it will take you to the Samsung Galaxy S III home screen. 

Note that this hack does not work every time. First time we tried bypassing our Galaxy S III lock screen it took us about 10 minutes of trying. But then we got the hang of it and managed to hack it within 10 attempts. Also, the one who discovered the vulnerability notes that having screen auto-rotation enabled increases the chances of the hack to work. Strangely, although the hack gives access to all apps and home screens, the notification bar remains inaccessible. This flaw appears to affect Samsung Galaxy S III units running Android 4.1.2. (UPDATE: Samsung Galaxy Note II is vulnerable as well.)

So all of you, guys, holding on to a Samsung Galaxy S III protected by a PIN or pattern, keep in mind that it isn't as secure as it should be. Hopefully, Samsung will address the issue in a timely manner.

Related phones

Galaxy S III
  • Display 4.8" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.9 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2100 mAh(11.60h 3G talk time)

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38 Comments

1. DKMDROID

Posts: 103; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

were GS3 owners feeling left out because iPhone users were having the problem or was iPhone users jealous of GS3 users cos they didnt have the problem?

20. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Gs3 messes up too from time to time.

30. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

Apple will sue Samsung for copying their security problem. :)

2. wendygarett unregistered

Oh pa, having too much free time to make this unnecessary nonsense? What next? Security flaw on lumia 920 as well? Lol

3. edgabimbam unregistered

Seems you also have a lot of free time with spaming this website...

4. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

grow up baby. security is one of the most important aspect of a phone. of course its clear that you'd prefer to read some news about Pokemon.

6. wendygarett unregistered

Phonearena is to review the phone, not teaching us hacking the phone, this article has clearly violated Sammy users' privacy if you ask me :(

10. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

thank you for defining the role of PA. this is a tech site and it will cover whatever is related to it and security is one of the most important of those. and i thought you owned HTC One X

12. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

He/she does own a one x, from being an apple fanboy to samsung, I wonder what's next...

18. wendygarett unregistered

"Note that this hack does not work every time. First time we tried bypassing our Galaxy S III lock screen it took us about 10 minutes of trying. But then we got the hang of it and managed to hack it within 10 attempts." this statement has clearly shown that phonearena is trying to hack Sammy user devices... is that not violation?

25. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Wendy it looks as if there's more than one person doing the typing on you're post's. that, or you're learning how to type better.

5. windy

Posts: 22; Member since: Oct 28, 2012

looks like android community was having fun with Apple while they had the same flaw.

9. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

This is so true lol.

22. anywherehome

Posts: 971; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

you lie, Android has no problem, Samsung has a problem ;) read more, think more :)

7. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

It works after the 1938472724 time I tried. -_-

8. BackHandLegend

Posts: 80; Member since: Dec 15, 2012

I really hope Apple doesn't sue over this...

11. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

How do people find this? Do they have this much free time in the day to try all aspects of bypassing lock screens on phones? This goes to the iPhone one too. That one was complicated and was found days after 6.1 rolled out.

13. Topcat488

Posts: 1411; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Looking forward to the Note III, I'm still loving my updated Original Galaxy Note... Never was a fan of the S series, so sorry it has that problem... It's "Note" or bust for me, Okay i'm lying... I'm gonna pick up a fiberglass iphone too. To the OEM fix these problems please. :/

14. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

My cousin is a genius when it comes to getting by people's lock screen. He's been doing it long before I ever heard about on sites like PA. Lil' bastid then likes to send embarrassing messages to people, nothing more nefarious than that though at least. Because of him, I downloaded an app called App Lock. Even if he gets past the lock screen there's nothing he can do about the 2nd (different) pass code which doesn't seem as exploitable as a lock screen. Not an advert for App Lock, just the one I happen to use. It just works well enough for me that because I have access to contacts, photos, calling, Play Store, etc. blocked off that I don't even bother with the lock screen anymore.

15. RohanM

Posts: 141; Member since: Jan 15, 2013

With having so many issues to sgs3 i am starting to hate my own sgs3.. so became a sammy hater.. issues like, sudden death, heating, poor multitasking...and so on.. sammy u disappointed me... typing from my sgs3........ next time will go for sony or htc (nokia only if they come up with droid) :)

17. wendygarett unregistered

I'm afraid you will regret for leaving Sammy :)

16. RohanM

Posts: 141; Member since: Jan 15, 2013

well it was secured until u posted it PA. lol

19. ilia1986 unregistered

Sorry - got nothing to hide on my SGS3. And it's always with me at all times regardless. Not to mention you got a gazillion apps to password lock your access to apps and what not.

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That's not the point. The gs3 isn't perfect after all, it has its hiccups too.

23. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Sammy....Sammy...Sammy..... Well....I know if I ever get an update or phone that have the emergency contacts icon ....I better take extra steps for security...

24. bibekpachhai unregistered

I can do the same thing on my S3 which is running 4.1.1, so it basically all S3

26. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

Samsung will do nothing as all their attention is on the upcoming release of the highly hyped Galaxy 4 and don't have time for a s3 being on life support... Same fate of the s2 last year.

29. g2a5b0e unregistered

What you just said makes absolutely no sense. The S2 never suffered at any such fate a year ago. It just received Jellybean. Does an almost 2-year old phone on "life support" receive a new operating system? No. Also, it was the highest selling Android phone of all-time before the S3. Now that the S3 is the highest selling Android of all-time, you can believe it will get the same or even better support in the future. It already went from 4.0 to 4.1. They'll squash this bug, then soon it will get 4.2. There's no doubt in my mind that it will see 5.0 in the future, too.

33. g2a5b0e unregistered

Definitely not a fan of these links they're adding into people's posts now...

27. Ninetysix

Posts: 2933; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Calling all the fandroids that mocked Apple when PA posted the lockscreen bypass. Please point at yourself in the mirror and laugh. http://www.phonearena.com/news/Another-day-another-way-to-bypass-the-passcode-discovered-in-iOS-6.1_id40247 gmracer1, etc

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