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OnePlus Security Troubles Mount As Root Access Backdoor Discovered In Preinstalled App

14 November 2017

Now, a developer has confirmed that it's possible to obtain root access on OnePlus phones without unlocking them. According to a Twitter user Elliot Alderson, some of OnePlus devices come with EngineerMode APK app pre-loaded on them, which acts as a backdoor, giving people root access without the need for unlocking the phone. The app, developed by Qualcomm, has been essentially designed for OEMs to test hardware components or diagnostic tests on device. The startup apparently left a diagnostic app preinstalled on its smartphones since the OnePlus 3 that, with just some simple nudging, can be used to gain root access to the device, with or without the user's knowledge.

OnePlus users can find the app pre-installed by going into Settings Apps Menu Show System Apps and search for EngineerMode in the app list.

In this app, the developer has found activity known as "DiagEnabled", if enabled with a specific password, grants the root access. The user can access manual tests like root status test, Global Positioning System test or the main activity by sending a command. Speaking to Hindustan Times, Alderson said, "This loophole is a backdoor".

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Mere days ahead of the OnePlus 5T launch and OnePlus has been accused of inadvertent installing a backdoor into its phones which hackers could exploit to seize control of affected phones.

Alderson, with the help of cybersecurity experts, was able to root a OnePlus device with a few commands. It looks like the Chinese smartphone company has accidentally left behind the app on some of its smartphone units. OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei tweeted that the company will study the claims made by the developer, according to The Mobile Indian. But the team proved it can be done without a whole lot effort, which in turn leaves a lot of OnePlus devices vulnerable. Following the allegations, OnePlus took some steps, and added the new "opt-in" option for the user experience program.

OnePlus Security Troubles Mount As Root Access Backdoor Discovered In Preinstalled App