Unsupported firmware check

Ted Penner
Ted Penner used Ask the Experts™
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Today, I had an interesting experience. I had left my phone plugged-in and attached to the windshield of my car while I was in a gymnasium at my church.

I noticed some kids that didn't look like the usual crowd gathering inside the gym but didn't really think anything of it until I got back outside to my car.

I received a message that the firmware on my phone had been flashed with an unsupported version.

The message soon went away, and the phone proceeded through some significant updating.  It had a percentage in the middle of a rotating wheel with dots around the outside of it.

Since my phone is back to normal now, nothing appears to be wrong, but I am still concerned none-the-less.

It is a Galaxy Note 8.

I need some tips on how to check to see if I have the correct firmware for my device since I am no longer getting any messages to the contrary?
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I would take it in to a local store for your carrier and explain what happened and ask if they can reflash the device for you.

The problem is that anything you do from the phone itself - you can't be sure what it's actually doing.  E.g. Download and reflash the firmware yourself?  The software to do that runs on the phone and could be compromised ("Sure I'm updating your firmware right now..." when it's not).

It's clear somebody tried to take over root access of your phone.  It's possible they failed and the phone basically did "heal itself".  But there's absolutely no way to know that for sure by using the phone.

The only fully reliable approach is to reflash the firmware from a known trusted source.

Doug
Distinguished Expert 2017
Commented:
Agree with prior suggestion to have it checked.
If bluetooth was on, that is likely how an attemmpt might have been made to update your device.
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
It didn't need to be in your car though, (assuming your car was locked and the phone could not be picker up).
It could probably also have been done while the phone was in your pocket.
There is no such function as Self repair.... built into phones.
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Ted PennerSoftware Engineer

Author

Commented:
I would still like to know more, because I think it was a failed update, and it healed itself.

How can I tell when the last firmware update installation was?
I don't know the specifics for how to check the firmware version on a Note 8 - but be aware that no matter what that indicates it certainly does not guarantee what firmware is on the device - because it's the firmware which is used to report the firmware version.

Malware is all about making itself invisible and if you have root access to a device, you don't want to reveal that.  You want it to remain as silent as possible until somebody makes remote access to your phone without your knowledge or consent.
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
You cannot tell this from the phone.    You have to assume the phone is compromised.
and will tell you nothing has changed, honestly..  you can't tell if is lying or not about it.

You can restore a factory image at a service shop.  Then you do know what you have.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
Commented:
Goto Settings -> About phone -> Software information and you will see a Baseband version which is the current firmware.

Goto Settings -> Software update and you will see when and what version of the last firmware update.
nociSoftware Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
@Jackie Man, Yep and if there is malware installed... with "special features" that malware might still show the "expected" versions.
There is no enforceable requirement that malware needs to have distinct version numbers.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
Commented:
@noci

Unless the kids have physical access to the Android phone, it is not likely to install anything on the phone.
Ted PennerSoftware Engineer

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all. Sorry for the delay here.

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