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EngineerMode backdoor discovered on another Android handset

The security researcher who discovered the backdoor on OnePlus devices has done it again, this time with a handset from Archos.

Published onDecember 22, 2017

  • The EngineerMode app backdoor, recently found on OnePlus devices, has been discovered on another Android handset
  • The Archos 40 Power may also be able to be exploited, according to the person who discovered the initial backdoor
  • It’s not yet clear how many Android phones have the same potential

You may recall a recent worry for OnePlus sometime back where a backdoor was found in their devices. By exploiting a system app, called EngineerMode, security researcher Robert Baptiste was able to gain root access to devices — and publish the findings.

OnePlus said that, while it didn’t see this as a “major security issue,” that it would remove the adb root function responsible in a future update. It seems, however, that this may not have been an isolated incident.

Baptiste, who uses the pseudonym Elliot Alderson (from the TV show Mr Robot) on Twitter, has now discovered the same backdoor on another device: the budget Archos 40 Power from early 2016.

<Thread> Hi @ARCHOS ?! Let’s discuss a backdoor found in the EngineerMode app on the @ARCHOS 40 Power phone
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) December 22, 2017

Though Baptiste was able to identify that EngineerMode app is checking a flag relating to root privileges, the researcher said that he hasn’t yet ascertained whether this can be exploited (though he said there was “clearly a potential” in a message he shared with me). Baptiste also said it was “more than likely” that the same possibility exists for other Android phones.

Baptiste intends to investigate this further, but for now, we’re left wondering about how many Android OEMs employ the same backdoor in their handsets.