OnePlus phones sold with root exploit backdoor

OnePlus OxygenOS Root Access Backdoor

This is not the first time that OnePlus has been accused of compromising privacy of its users.

The app and the subsequent backdoor access was discovered by Twitter user Elliott Alderson (a reference to the Mr. Robot character), who then went into a lot of detail about how to gain root access to the device. However, it also holds a backdoor which is capable of root access, even if the device has not been unlocked. Hopefully, that ends with an update that removes the app.

OnePlus smartphones including OnePlus 3, 3T and 5 can be rooted without unlocking the bootloader via EngineerMode APK app.

Some of OnePlus devices come with EngineerMode APK app pre-loaded on them, which reportedly acts as a backdoor, giving people root access without the need for unlocking the phone.

In this app, the developer has found activity known as "DiagEnabled", if enabled with a specific password, grants the root access. It is provided to OEMs by Qualcomm engineers to allow them to test their devices.

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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. The app has the ability to diagnose Global Positioning System, check root status and perform a series of tests.

Getting root access to a smartphone allows a hacker to access "superuser" mode, making it extremely easy to inject malware with surveillance capabilities.

OnePlus has acknowledged the issue, and company founder Carl Pei said it is being investigated.

OnePlus was in a bit of hot water earlier this month for collecting user data through OxygenOS and sending it back to the company, a practice it has since stopped.

Will it affect OnePlus 5T sales? At the time, OnePlus stated that the whole objective of collecting data was to improve the service.

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