Samsung is introducing a new feature for its phones that acts as a security valet when it is handed over to a repair outlet, ensuring that no personal data can be accessed by any unauthorized person. Dubbed Repair Mode, it can be enabled from the Battery and Device Care section in the Settings menu.
Once Repair Mode is enabled, the phone reboots and presents a UI that only allows the default apps to stay functional. All the apps you’ve installed on your phone, which contain valuable information, are locked. In repair mode, the phone also blocks access to photos, messages, and accounts signed up for different services.
As an added measure of security, Repair Mode can only be disabled after entering the phone password set by the owner. And in case you’re wondering, yes, you can choose to disable the security feature with a scan of your fingerprint — which is a more secure alternative to an alphanumeric password or PIN.
Repair Mode will first make its way to Samsung Galaxy S21 series phones via a software update and will subsequently arrive on other Samsung smartphones. However, the company is yet to share an official list of devices that are compatible with Repair Mode.
Samsung’s Repair Mode offers some much-needed relief to people worried about the safety of their personal information when their phone is lying at a repair outlet. The concerns are legitimate, and there is no dearth of incidents where private data stolen from a phone was leaked from such repair shops.
In June last year, Apple agreed to pay millions of dollars to a 21-year-old student whose private images and videos were leaked after she sent her iPhone to an Apple repair store. According to a report from The Telegraph, the incident happened in 2016 at a repair facility in California.
IndiaToday also reported on a similar case of a woman living in India’s national capital, who handed her phone over for fixing a broken screen. Soon, she started receiving calls from bad actors trying to extort her by threatening to leak personal media. In a span of just six months, the city’s police received over 300 reports of private data being stolen from women’s phones.