Is It Cold In Here, Or Are You Just Trying to Steal My Android Data?

In today’s mobile news roundup: FROST allows access to locked Android smartphone data; Samsung to compete with Nokia in emerging markets; LG unveils Optimus G Pro; and Apple’s ad laced weekend.

FROST allows access to locked Android smartphone data

Researchers Tilo Mueller and Michael Spreitzenbarth at Erlangen University in Germany discovered that PIN or pattern unlock security may not be enough to protect data on Android smartphones in case it gets stolen or lost.

The researchers used FROST, or Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones: a technique that involves cooling the phone to around five degrees Fahrenheit and quickly rebooting a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, to access data from memory such as  images, emails, web browsing history and in some cases, even the key to decrypt the phone’s storage disk, by taking advantage of an effect known as the “remanence,” the lingering information that remains for a few moments in a device’s memory even when a power source has been removed.  The colder the memory, the longer the information stays.

“RAM doesn’t lose its content immediately,” says Mueller. “If it’s 30 degrees celsius, it’s lost in one or two seconds. But if you cool the phone, the contents are lost in five or six seconds. That gives us enough time to reboot the phone and access the memory.”

Though Galaxy Nexus users may want to try this trick out, be forewarned: Samsung locks the bootloader on new versions of the device and automatically wipes the user partition if it’s unlocked, preventing FROST from working.

Despite the scary nature of FROST, it may not be as threatening as you think.  Contributing Editor John Casaretto says the security breach is rather underwhelming in the grand scheme of things.  See his full analysis below:

Samsung to compete with Nokia in emerging markets

In other Samsung news, the Korean phone maker is launching what it calls “a new series of smart feature phones” in emerging markets to compete with Nokia’s Asha line.  Under the Rex series, Samsung will be rolling out four new devices: the Rex 90, 80, 70 and 60.

All of the devices features a capacitive touchscreen, except for the Rex 60 which has a resistive touchscreen, and are dual SIM phones – a feature very popular in Emerging markets like India.  It runs on Java-based OS and feature Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.

“We are committed to developing the best possible mobile solutions to suit all lifestyles and budgets, which is why we are so excited to launch the Rex series across a number of the world’s fastest growing markets,” said JK Shin, president of the IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung.

LG unveils Optimus G Pro

LG has finally unveiled the Optimus G Pro in South Korea.  The Optimus G Pro features a 5.5-inch touchscreen with a 1080p resolution and a 400ppi pixel density, 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, 13MP rear camera, 2.1MP video call camera, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, Android 4.1.2, 3140mAh battery.  It is 9.4mm thick, same thickness as the Samsung Galaxy Note II, but is lighter at only 172 grams rather than 183 grams.

The Optimus G Pro also has as a “Virtual Reality Panorama” mode, which is no different than the Photo Sphere introduced by Google on the Android 4.2.  It is a half-inch bigger than the Optimus G Pro, previously introduced in Japan.

Apple’s ad-laced weekend

During the weekend, Apple launched printed and TV ads that highlighted the capabilities if the iOS as well as the thousands of apps available for the iPad and iPad mini.

The printed ads features a simple headline that highlights a particular category or type of apps, such as “Ear Opening” for music related titles, “Elementary” for educational titles, “Well Versed” for music notation and ebooks and “Mind watering” for visually graphic apps.

For the TV ads, Apple launched two, Alive and Together.  Both ads features a string of adjectives shown in quick succession then some apps that highlights the best features of both the iPad and the iPad mini.