Millions of Samsung Galaxy Phones May Be Vulnerable to Hackers

Millions of Samsung Galaxy Phones May Be Vulnerable to Hackers

Samsung's Galaxy S4 emerges to do battle on Apple's home turf
Reuters
By Andrew Lumby

If you’re one of the millions of users of a Samsung Galaxy phone, you might be a potential target for a malicious hacker.

A report released today by NowSecure, a security firm located in Chicago, found that a glitch in Swift, the keyboard software used by default on all Samsung Galaxy devices could allow a remote attacker to compromise your phone.

This particular bug makes the phone vulnerable to what is known as a “man in the middle” attack. The Swift software consistently sends requests to a server, checking for updates. To someone with the right knowhow, though, it’s possible to impersonate Swift’s server and send through software that can be used to gain control of the device.

The main problem with this vulnerability is that there’s no real solution. The Swift keyboard is so integrated into Samsung’s software that it cannot be removed or disabled — even if it is switched out with a different keyboard app. Steering clear of unsecured Wi-Fi networks will make you less likely to be targeted, but it won’t render you invulnerable.

Related: 10 Biggest Tech Flops of the Century​

Swift runs with elevated permissions, giving it pretty much free rein around the phone. This means that a hacker that worms his way into it can also access the Galaxy’s microphone and camera, track the user’s location or listen to their calls. They can even install apps.

NowSecure claims to have made Samsung and Google’s Android team aware of this vulnerability in late 2014, and Samsung reportedly has made a patch available to network providers. It’s not clear, though, whether providers have pushed out the patch to users yet. Many networks have a record of being notoriously slow to push through updates and security patches, and NowSecure’s tests found a number of Galaxy phones on different carriers were still vulnerable as of Tuesday.

If you’re of a more technical bent, you may be interested in seeing the details of NowSecure’s report on their blog. If you’re of a less technical bent, you might want to check with your carrier and try to avoid insecure Wi-Fi networks.

Number of the Day: 5.5 Percent

The debate over national health care aside, more Americans today say they get "excellent health care" than did in the early 2000s, according to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/150806/rate-own-healthcare-quality-coverage-excellent.aspx" target="_blank"
Getty Images
By Yuval Rosenberg

Health care spending in the U.S. will grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent from 2017 through 2026, according to new estimates published in Health Affairs by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The projections mean that health care spending would rise as a share of the economy from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent in 2026.

Part of the Shutdown-Ending Deal: $31 Billion More in Tax Cuts

The U.S. Capitol building is lit at dusk ahead of planned votes on tax reform in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files
Joshua Roberts
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Margot Sanger-Katz and Jim Tankersley in The New York Times: “The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health care-related taxes.”

“Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.”

IRS Paid $20 Million to Collect $6.7 Million in Tax Debts

The IRS provides second chances to get your tax return right with Form 1040X.
iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies to pursue “inactive tax receivables,” but the financial results are not encouraging so far, according to a new taxpayer advocate report out Wednesday.

In fiscal year 2017, the IRS received $6.7 million from taxpayers whose debts were assigned to private collection agencies, but the agencies were paid $20 million – “three times the amount collected,” the report helpfully points out.

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Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan See Small GDP Boost from Tax Bill

Belize sure is bumpy.
Wikipedia
By Yuval Rosenberg

Goldman Sachs economists see the tax bill adding 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 while JP Morgan forecasts a similar gain of 0.3 percentage points next year and 0.2 percentage points the year after.

Goldman’s analysts add that federal spending, which is likely to grow more quickly next year than it has recently, will bring the total fiscal boost to around 0.6 percentage points for 2018 and 0.4 percentage points in 2019.

Both banks see deficits likely rising above $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of GDP, in 2019.