Samsung has created a new repair mode for Galaxy smartphones, which should prevent access to customers’ personal data during repairs.
This new repair method was first announced by the Korean brand on their website and spotted by SamMobile.
This privacy feature can potentially be very useful when someone needs to give physical access to their device to a third party. If your smartphone, which is also usually your main camera and storage device, needs to be repaired, you need to make sure that the repairman will only perform the necessary repairs and nothing more.
Unfortunately, technicians are already abusing this access. Last year, Apple faced a lawsuit over two iPhone repairers working at an authorized repair center who leaked confidential photos and videos of a woman to Facebook after receiving the files while they were repairing his iPhone.
Samsung says recovery mode will first be added to the Galaxy S21 series via a software update, and then extended to “certain other models in the future.”
Knox storage area
Recovery mode allows the user to “selectively release data” while their smartphone is being repaired. It can be activated by going to Settings > Battery & device maintenance. The device then reboots and restricts access to default applications and access to personal data is blocked. Once the phone is returned to the owner, the owner can deactivate the repair mode and restart the device using biometric authentication or thanks to their passcode.
On a technical level, it doesn’t explain how data is protected by this mode, but Samsung does indicate that it has created the Samsung Knox Vault, an isolated area for sensitive data protected by hardware security.
According to Samsung, Knox Vault offers “information protection technology that blocks various attacks by storing encrypted personal information in its own vault.”