This is thanks to a Qualcomm system-side app and OnePlus's decision to leave it in the custody of end users. In a Twitter thread, the developer explained how he was able to gain root access and surprisingly, the app has been pre-installed on all current OnePlus phones, and on OxygenOS for OnePlus One.
The app can diagnose Global Positioning System, check the root status, perform a series of automated tests, and more. A developer has found an application that can be manipulated into to granting a backdoor root access.
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On Tuesday, developer Elliot Alderson tweeted that OnePlus has left behind an app that can act as a backdoor to get root access to a device without unlocking it.
After tearing apart the phone's libdoor.so library, he managed to obtain root access though bypassing the escalate and isEscalated methods in the DiagEnabled activity.
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While the vulnerability allows attackers to use the EngineerMode app to fully compromise devices, a mitigating factor is that local access to devices is needed - no remote exploit is available. The application was present on several models of OnePlus devices including OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 5. However, carrying out such an attack would require physical access to the device-the hacker would need to have the smartphone in hand to hijack Engineer Mode and start doing damage. The app, developed by Qualcomm, has been essentially designed for OEMs to test hardware components or diagnostic tests on device.
This exploit is just that, an exploit in the phone's security. While the company eventually reversed course on the data collection, another discovery has been made in the software of OnePlus phones. It is also possible to delete the app once it is discovered.
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