Today, many tech sites were a buzz with the latest emergency call security vulnerability in the Samsung Galaxy S III and Note 2. We were able to recreate the flaw on the Samsung Galaxy S III (video follows). It appears that the ICE does have a few cracks.
In the video below you will see that by touching the "ICE"(In Case of Emergency) button then holding down the home button, we were able to get to the homescreen for a very short time on a Samsung Galaxy S3 with PIN-locking enabled.
We were not able to activate any apps or create any mayhem. You would have to be very fast in order to do any damage on the model we have.
We tried the following:
- Tapped "Emergency Call" from lockscreen.
- Touched the "ICE" button on the bottom left.
- Held down the physical home key for a few seconds and then release.
- The phone's home screen displayed briefly (less than a few seconds).
- While the home screen was displayed, we tried to start an app or a widget. (Couldn't do it fast enough).
Engadget tried several times and couldn't get on video. We were able to get the homescreen to show but were not fast enough to launch any apps like was demonstrated on the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
Since it is rumored that Samsung is already working on the problem, we don't think its a major flaw but it does illustrate that ICE contacts are very important. They are also important if you lose the phone and the finder can't unlock your screen. The finder may call your spouse or another contact found in ICE.
What we did learned that you can put more than one "ICE" contact on your homescreen for when calling 911 is not appropriate.
Say for example you are hurt and need someone to call your doctor, you can put your doctor's phone number on the ICE screen or maybe your spouse or family member. All you have to do is go to contacts, tap on the contact, tap on groups and add the contact to ICE and tap done. Then if something happens to you and you ask someone to call your doctor, you don't have to give them your pin.
Some security experts have suggested not to put any direct dial widgets, sensitive information widgets, mobile wallet apps use an an app locker for sensitive apps while this problem exists. I have contacted Samsung's public relations team, asking for a Samsung official response.
Of course no one would suggest disabling the emergency call feature, because it is there in case of emergencies.
The well reviewed Samsung Galaxy S III was named the top smartphone of 2012, and has gained a great following and offers all kinds of neat features (see video beginner / advanced tips). There are currently deals to get the SG S3 for a little as penny with contract.