Qualcomm denies creating backdoor APK found on OnePlus devices

By | 15th November 2017

A few days ago we reported on a backdoor app that could make it easy to root OnePlus devices dubbed EngineerMode. The app is designed to allow OnePlus to check the device to make sure everything is working properly, but there’s also an activity within the APK that enables root access when launched.

The APK was also found on other devices like the ASUS ZenFone and Xiaomi Redmi 3S, suggesting it was a tool created by Qualcomm for diagnostics of devices. OnePlus issued a statement yesterday that clarified what the app is and that they’ll be removing it in a future OTA update, but today Qualcomm issued a statement to say the app in question is not something they created.

After an in-depth investigation, we have determined that the EngineerMode app in question was not authored by Qualcomm. Although remnants of some Qualcomm source code is evident, we believe that others built upon a past, similarly named Qualcomm testing app that was limited to displaying device information. EngineerMode no longer resembles the original code we provided.

So it sounds like OnePlus created a modified version of this EngineerMode APK for their devices in order to monitor specific activity. This is something we’ve seen before from the company and given how frequently OnePlus has had to issue updates to remove apps phoning home for privacy concerns, we’re not really surprised something like this was discovered.

Does this affect your decision to use a OnePlus device? Let us know in the comments.