Explained: How do Tizen OS vulnerabilities affect your Samsung devices?

2 min read

The past calendar year hasn’t been kind to Samsung. From executives being arrested by the Korean government to fiery phones with the Note 7, the Samsung brand has taken quite the hit in previous months. Unfortunately, a new independent security study of their watch and TV operating system may add to the PR woes. Security researchers have reportedly found more than 40 flaws in the system, including the ability of hackers to completely hijack the devices remotely.

The lead researcher behind the exploits, Amihai Neiderman, cites the lack of security in multiple aspects of the code for Tizen OS, but the biggest is that certain flaws allow elevated privileges to the highest OS level. Using the Tizen app store which has this root file access, hackers can easily install their own code to take control of the devices if they wanted to do so.

“You can update a Tizen system with any malicious code you want,” he says. 

“Tizen is going to be Samsung’s biggest thing. We might see the new Galaxies running Tizen, it could happen that soon. But right now Tizen is not safe enough for that.”

“may be the worst code I’ve ever seen,”

So what does this mean for the average consumer? Well, you don’t need to throw out your TV by any means…but you might want to cut off WiFi on it until news of updates to these risks are resolved. With the extent of the exploits having root access, they could indeed hijack your device and other information stored on the device. Disabling the internet connection could be used as a temporary barrier to remote hacks. We would also recommend extreme caution or not side-loading any applications onto Tizen-based devices in their current form. As for your smartwatch, it would be safest to go along the same lines if possible.

All of that said, your Samsung smartphone, as long as it is Android-based, should be safe — it just depends on how bad Samsung’s coding really is and if anything from Tizen carried over to the company’s Android skin.

The good thing is that Samsung is aware of the situation and has contacted Amihai Neirderman to start working towards a solution for this problem. He has said to have shared examples from his findings with Samsung team and strongly recommended the company work towards halting any other devices or software releases until the flaws are controlled.

Motherboard The Verge