Samsung’s custom user interface for Android smartphones is called TouchWiz. Some folks think the color scheme, custom apps, and other tweaks Samsung makes to Android make the operating system easier to use — others find it ugly and cumbersome.

But it turns out that it could also be dangerous to surf the web using TouchWiz. A security researcher has found a vulnerability that allows a website, SMS message, or NFC tag to trigger a factory reset on some phones with TouchWiz.

Update: Samsung is working on a fix. In the meantime, you can install a third party app that should help you avoid accidentally resetting your device.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Basically, you’re surfing the web, you click a link, and all of a sudden your phone starts to delete all of your data and settings — and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

The factory reset is triggered by a USSD code sent to the TouchWiz smartphone dialer. That means if you’re running an AOSP-based custom ROM or have a phone that doesn’t use TouchWiz

Affected devices reportedly include the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Beam, and at least some Galaxy S III models.

There are reports that the vulnerability has been fixed in the latest software updates for most Galaxy S III phones, and some users report that if you use Google Chrome as your default web browser instead of Samsung’s built-in web browser, you could be safe.

via TNW and SlashGear

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...