Nexus smartphones vulnerable to SMS bug that can cause reboots, loss of connectivity

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| November 29, 2013

Google Nexus 5 rear

Heads up, Nexus owners, because you'll want to be aware of this new bug that's been found to affect Google's latest Android smartphones. Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at a Dutch IT firm, has discovered a text messaging exploit that can cause Nexus smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich through KitKat to reboot on its own or lose its connection to the network.

The bug involves something called Flash SMSs or Class 0 SMSs that, rather than getting stored in a device's inbox, show up directly on a device's screen and won't go away until they're dismissed by the user. Alecu found that if enough of these messages are sent to a vulnerable piece of hardware, the phone can reboot itself or lose connection to the mobile network until it's restarted by the user. In his testing, Alecu says that in his testing, the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 were all vulnerable to the exploit but that nearly 20 non-Nexus phones were not. A video of the bug causing a Galaxy Nexus to reboot can be found below.

So what's a Nexus owner to do? The good news is that Alecu has created a free app that allows users to set a limit on how many Flash SMSs their device can receive in a certain period of time, which should prevent any ne'er do wells from giving grief to that hardware. As for an official fix, Google has told PCWorld that it's investigating the issue. So far the bug sounds more like an annoyance that a major security issue, but hopefully Google still plans on getting it squashed in a speedy manner. 

Via AllThingsD, PCWorld, Google Play: Class0Firewall

Google Nexus Android 4.2 DOS from Msec Net on Vimeo.