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Android security flaw lets attackers in using a large password

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 16, 2015
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There have been plenty of security holes involving mobile device lock screens, but a recently discovered Android flaw may give you more reasons than usual to be cautious. The technique bypasses the lock screen on most versions of Android Lollipop by crashing it with any large-enough password -- all you need to do is work with that text while the camera app is open, and then enter it into the password prompt. When the attack works, you have as much access as the hardware's rightful owner.

The exploit has already been fixed through a security update for Google's Nexus devices, and it doesn't work if you're using either a PIN code or a pattern unlock. The odds that you'll fall prey to this attack aren't high, folks. Even so, there are a few reasons to be concerned. While Android device makers are getting better about timely security fixes, you may be stuck with hardware that either gets its patch late or not at all. And if you're vulnerable, you may have to switch to a more predictable unlock method just to avoid the glitch. While this isn't the end of the world by any stretch, it's not exactly comforting.

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