An odd bug has been found on devices powered by MediaTek chipsets, raising concerns over the devices’ security for end-users. A simple text message sent to the device will cause it to shut down and restart itself. Given that the chipset is widely used in many low-end smartphones, this issue affects a broad range of devices – and some of them are available in Malaysia.
At the moment, this glitch is seemingly nothing more than an inconvenience to the end users, but this loophole nevertheless presents some potentially serious security concerns. Sending an SMS containing nothing but the equals symbol ” = ” will cause the receiver’s device to reboot, regardless of whether the message is opened or not. A demo of the bug can be found in the video below (around the 1:17 mark):
It is a pretty odd bug, but it is one that will potentially affect many users. It is not known which MediaTek chipset is vulnerable to this bug, but some of the confirmed list of devices include those from French companies Wiko and Archos, as well as Chinese companies Zopo and Alcatel OneTouch (aka TCL). Some smartphones from Acer may also be vulnerable, not to mention the many, many cheap OEM smartphones in the Chinese market.
From what we can gather, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol Ultra and OneTouch Idol X – two of Alcatel OneTouch’s older high-end devices – are susceptible to this bug. Some have also mentioned that devices such as the Sony Xperia C also suffer from the glitch. While the list of confirmed devices is pretty short for now, you can actually check if your Mediatek-powered smartphone is susceptible. Just send a text message with just the equals symbol and see what happens. If it doesn’t reboot, your device is fine.
If your device suffers from this remote restart glitch, well, there’s a pretty easy solution to remedy that. You’ll just need to replace your default SMS app to a third-party one such as Google’s Hangouts. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, there’s no word whether this bug can be exploited as yet, but naturally, users affected by this bug should take precautions by switching their default SMS apps to a third-party choice. At the very least, none of your friends will be able to bug you by remotely rebooting your device.