OnePlus left a backdoor in its devices capable of root access

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Just a month ago, OnePlus was caught collecting personally identifiable data from phone owners through incredibly detailed analytics. While the company eventually reversed course on the data collection, another discovery has been made in the software of OnePlus phones. One developer found an application intended for factory testing, and through some investigation and reverse-engineering, was able to obtain root access using it.

 

The application in question is called ‘EngineerMode,’ which is intended to be used in factories to confirm that the device is working properly. We have confirmed it is installed on the OnePlus 3, 3T, and 5. It’s even included on OxygenOS for the OnePlus One, but not the original CyanogenOS ROM.

The app can diagnose GPS, check the root status, perform a series of automated tests, and more. The developer found that by launching the ‘DiagEnabled’ activity found in the APK with a specified password, the device could actually be rooted:

After tearing apart the phone’s libdoor.so library, he managed to obtain root access though bypassing the escalate and isEscalated methods in the DiagEnabled activity. With the help of a few cybersecurity experts, the required password was discovered, making rooting a OnePlus phone as easy as running a few commands.

He plans to release an app for rooting OnePlus devices sometime today, and we’ll update the post when it is released. While this might sound exciting, due to the possibility of obtaining root access without unlocking the phone, this actually has serious security repercussions. While it’s likely not possible for any random app to obtain root with this method, as the commands can only be run through ADB, this could be used in conjunction with another vulnerability (like this one) to cause harm.

The chance of this already having been exploited is probably low, but it’s still a massive risk to users. Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, has said the company is looking into it:

We’ve also reached out to OnePlus for comment. In the meantime, you should probably avoid installing any sketchy-looking apps. Hopefully OnePlus will remove the application from its devices with an update, all the way back to the OnePlus One.

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