14 March 2023
Samsung has introduced a new security feature Message Guard to keep its users safe against zero-click attacks. The feature is meant for Galaxy smartphones and tablets but will first arrive on the Galaxy S23 series. It is claimed to protect users from attacks where they do not even have to click on random URLs or download attachments to become a victim.
Zero-click cyber attacks are carried out by sending a JPG or PNG image file that looks harmless. As soon as the image is received on the device, the attack gets triggered in the background. These images feature malicious code that affects the device and gets hackers access to sensitive information of the victim. These could include access to messages, contacts, gallery images/videos, and even bank details. All of this happens when the user does not even have a clue.
This is the reason such attacks have become quite common in the past few years. They are capable of installing spyware on the affected devices without requiring any interaction from the potential victim. One big example of this attack is the Pegasus spyware from NSO which affected numerous notable personalities including journalists, activists, and politicians.
Message Guard is a security feature that Samsung claims will protect users from such zero-click attacks. It does so by trapping and isolating a received image file from the rest of the device. It essentially sandboxes the image file and scans it bit by bit and even processes it in an isolated environment. This is to ensure that if the file is infected, it does not affect other files or the operating system of the device.
This is a feature that works automatically in the background and a user does need to run it manually. The new tool is in addition to the existing Samsung Knox security platform which provides similar protection for audio and video files. Message Guard works with Samsung Messages and Messages by Google apps. The company has plans to release a software update that will make the tool compatible with third-party messaging apps as well.
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