Remember S Suggest, an app Samsung had put on all its smartphones until 2014? Motherboard Vice recently reported that this function was at a center of a somewhat incredulous story on smartphone security: it came this close to being the source of a huge hacking vulnerability.
Samsung decided to stop updating the app but it forgot one small but really quite important detail: users who bought (and who still have) phones from before 2014 still have the app on their devices. When Samsung decided not to renew the domain name ssuggest.com (the website behind the app) upon its expiration, it pretty much opened up the playing field to hackers who might wish to cause damage as it could then be used to manipulate phones from afar thanks to the numerous permissions required by the app. A security expert, João Gouveia, spotted the error and fixed the issue after he took over the domain.
A few months earlier, Samsung had also put its foot in it when it launched an exploding smartphone on the market. When it became apparent that its latest device in the Note series was a ticking time-bomb, the Note 7 was quickly recalled in order to further investigate the issue. The production team put their heads together and came up with an improved model and thus the Note 7 was re-launched. Ironically, these models also began exploding as it turned out to be a manufacturing error.
Granted, making an error is human and everyone is at risk of doing it. Granted, Samsung was neither the first nor will it be the last to find itself at the heart of an international scandal. But is it acceptable despite this? No, it isn’t. And the argument that “others are doing the same thing” doesn’t excuse anything. This new story shows a lack of diligence that is unfortunately not unique to Samsung – it’s a trend that’s driving the current economy to act ever faster in order to minimize cost and maximize revenue, sometimes overlooking important details, which should be a priority. Like security.
In summary, dear manufacturers, please stay concentrated: do what you can to ensure the safety of your devices because what may seem like a minor detail can end up having huge repercussions.