Everyone feels a little safer with Android's security updates, which are welcome and often necessary protective measures. But what happens when the update that's supposed to safeguard your phone actually ends up wreaking havoc with its security system?
Well, that's exactly what happened with the latest T-Mobile Galaxy S8 update. It basically broke an Android security system called SafetyNet, which ensures that a phone's software is secure and unaltered. But this update caused SafetyNet to freak out on Samsung's flagship devices, according to several user reports in an XDA thread.
SafetyNet's set of services and APIs help to protect users against device tampering, bad URLs, potentially harmful apps, and fake users. All in all, it helps your phone to run smoothly and securely — just not when a T-Mobile update has run riot!
Apps that deal with real-world money — like banking apps and Android Pay — will usually check with SafetyNet before running on a device. If and when SafetyNet says something has been interfered with, the app will refuse to work. In this particular case, users can't make mobile payments.
So, even though nothing was actually amiss, the devices in question reacted like their firmware had been tampered with once the T-Mobile update was rolled out. Not ideal, as evidenced by the swarm of users who complained online:
After the update this morning my device is official in settings but in play store it's uncertified and Google play thinks I'm rooted....
Another irritated Galaxy S8 user, Kingaries79, "had to exchange my phone," as a result of the T-Mobile fiasco, which caused certain apps to react as if the new phone was rooted or modified.
According to user reports, however, Samsung's own mobile payments app, Samsung Pay, still works despite the SafetyNet hiccup. This is likely due to the fact that Samsung uses its own system called Knox to run a security check for Samsung Pay, and apparently, the update has not affected Knox.
This isn't the first breach of SafetyNet this year, however. In March, the same thing happened with Pixel and Nexus phones, much to the irritation of hundreds of Reddit users. Thankfully, Google rectified that issue relatively quickly by sending out another OTA which fixed the SafetyNet issue.
Let's hope T-Mobile and Samsung afford their customers the same courtesy, because if you're affected by this issue, the only thing you can do is wait on another firmware update to fix the problems caused by this one.