It looks like Samsung's Tizen isn't the safest operating system you can use.
To be fair, Tizen is not found in the Galaxy 8 so the enthusiasm which the Tame Apple Press is reporting this story is probably a little desperate. By comparison, the Central Intelligence Agency hijack described in the WikiLeaks documents only worked on older Samsung Smart TVs and required an agent to physically install it on a television set via a USB stick. The report says the security holes can be found on versions of Tizen going back years, and affect all forms of the OS, including smartwatches like the Gear S3.
Samsung's Tizen operating system is now installed on around 30 million smart TVs and is used for its Samsung Gear smartwatches. On discovering the bugs, Neiderman told Motherboard that Tizen "may be the worst code I've ever seen".
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Any operating system in the world suffers from unknown zero-day vulnerabilities. "Everything you can do wrong there, they do it". He added that there is a widespread improper use of the strcpy () function in C, which is notorious for making devices vulnerable to risky functions that are well known to experienced C and C++ programmers.
Although the TizenStore software authenticates apps before they're installed on a device, Neiderman exploited a vulnerability that let him gain control of apps before they could be authenticated. Since the app store is one of the most trusted installations of a Tizen device, it can be used as an easy route for hackers to update the system with nasty malware.
The concern here is that the flaws allow hackers to remotely control a device through remote code execution (REC). He says that much of Tizen's code is borrowed from past Samsung projects, such as Bada, but most of the security issues are found within the newer bits of code. "You can update a Tizen system with any malicious code you want", said Neiderman.
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One of the issues, though, struck the researcher as particularly bad: The TizenStore app, Samsung's storefront for downloading and purchasing new apps, akin to Google Play or Apple's App Store.
"Given that Tizen is now running on 30 million devices and that Samsung plans to have 10 million Tizen phones this year, the potential for these devices to become members of the next big botnet is very real", he warned. Tizen is basically an Android replacement, Motherboard explains, an open-source platform Samsung has been rolling out over the past few years.
Samsung initially responded to Neiderman with an automated email response, but after Motherboard's report the company says it is "fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Neiderman to mitigate any potential vulnerabilities". "Through our Bug Bounty program and internal security safeguards, Samsung continuously patches any would-be vulnerabilities".
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Lewis added, "These companies can also force Americans to pay to preserve their online data, as some companies have posited". But social media and internet search websites don't have access to almost as much data as internet service providers.