Samsung Phones Sending Photos Without Permission

Samsung Phones Sending Photos Without Permission

The Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ and Note 8 are all reported to have been recently affected by a bug in the Samsung Messages app that sends out photos from the user’s gallery without their permission … to random contacts.

What Happens?

According to Samsung phone users on social media and the company’s forum, some users have been affected by a bug in the default texting app on Galaxy, Samsung Messages. Reports indicate that the bug causes Samsung Messages to text photos stored in a user’s gallery to a random person listed as contact. The user is not informed that the pictures have been sent, or to whom, and there has even been one reported complaint that a person’s whole gallery was sent to a contact in the middle of the night!

Why?

Although there is no conclusive evidence concerning the cause, online speculation has centred on the bug being related to the interaction between Samsung Messages and recent RCS (Rich Communication Services) profile updates that have rolled out on carriers including T-Mobile. These updates have been rolled out to add updated and new features to the outdated SMS protocol e.g. better media sharing and typing indicators.

Acknowledged

Samsung is reported to have acknowledged the reports of problems, and is said to be looking into them. Samsung is also reported to have urged concerned customers to contact them directly on 1-800-SAMSUNG, and the company supposedly have been in contact with T-Mobile about the issue. T-Mobile is recorded as saying that it is not their issue.

What Can You Do?

As well contacting Samsung, and in the absence of any definitive news of a fix as yet, there are two main possible fixes that Samsung owners can pursue. These are:

  1. To go into the phone’s app settings and revoke Samsung Messages’ ability to access storage. This should stop Messages from sending photos or anything else stored on the device.
  2. Switch to a different texting app e.g. Android Messages or Textra. There are no (known) reports of these being affected by the same bug.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

People pay a lot of money to get the latest phones and to get the right contracts to allow for the high volume of communications associated with business use. It is (at the very least) annoying, but more generally scary and potentially damaging that personal, private image files can be randomly sent. These photos could, for example, contain commercially sensitive information that could put a company’s competitive advantage at risk if sent to the wrong person. Also, some photos could cause embarrassment for the user and / or the subject of the photo, and could damage business and personal relationships if they fell into the wrong hands. Some photos sent to the wrong person, as well as compromising privacy, could pose serious security risks.

At a time when we acknowledge that photos of ourselves / our faces stored by e.g. CCTV cameras are our personal data, Samsung could find itself on the wrong end of GDPR-related and other lawsuits if found to be directly responsible for the bug and its results.

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