As OnePlus is currently gearing up for the official launch of the OnePlus 5T, it has found itself making headlines for unwanted reasons once again. This time around, OnePlus has been spotted to have left a system app installed on its devices which can be exploited easily to get root access. It was first noticed by a Twitter user Elliot Anderson (name inspired by Mr. Robot’s lead) who shared all the information in a series of tweets.
The system app in question here is known as EngineerMode which is developed by Qualcomm and is given to OEMs for internal testing purposes to make sure that the device is working as intended. It helps OEMs in running a bunch of automated tests, diagnose GPS, check root status, and perform other checks. The app is usually removed before shipping devices to stores and commercial usage. But in the case of OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5, the company apparently forgot to do so. You can look for the app on your device by simply visiting Settings -> Apps -> Menu -> Show system apps and searching for EngineerMode name in the list.
The EngineerMode app is said to act as a password-protected backdoor on the device for getting instant root access. All one needs to figure out is the password and once it is again, it is the easiest thing to root the smartphone. The user who spotted the app has even succeeded in cracking the password (with help from peers) and is all set to release an app which will make it the easiest for OnePlus users to root their device.
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) November 13, 2017
In response, OnePlus CEO Carl Pei thanked the user for the “heads up” and said that the team is “looking into it.” The first part of his message suggests that OnePlus had no clue about the existence of the app on its devices.
Thanks for the heads up, we’re looking into it.
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) November 13, 2017
This is not the first time OnePlus has come under the radar over user privacy. It was recently found to be collecting users’ private data anonymously. But as far as this root backdoor issue is concerned, we will keep you updated as OnePlus will share any other official statement.