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At wit's end with phone lockout; please help!


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#1 Hunting.Targ

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 11:03 PM

I realize that I am writing here because I am a doofenschmirtz, and that the sharp, knowledgeable people here give their time and expertise for free, because they love the craft.  Having said that...

 

I own a quite new Samsung Galaxy Note5, updated to Android 5.2.2, and have had a wonderful time learning to use my new phone until last week.  You see (this is the doofenschmirtz part), I enabled the Fingerprint Lock feature, and input a backup password without memorizing it or writing it down.  Now I have managed to lock myself out of my phone, checked with my cel service carrier, Samsung, and on Google, and since my phone is not linked to either a Samsung or a Google account, the only way for me to unlock it is to remember the password.

 

150 unsuccessful tries later, I am here with much chagrin and humility.  The only data I stand to lose is some pictures and videos, which have some sentimental value because they were taken at a location in a theme park which is now being demolished and replaced by something else.  All I want is the media files; my contacts, apps, etc., are still on my old phone which I can sync up after a factory reset.  If I can 1) reset the lockout state on the phone so that it will read fingerprints again, or 2) somehow extract my data files from the phone while locked out; I can have my phone factory reset without a heavy heart.  (I also use my phone to make money in on-demand services, so the time I can wait is becoming limited.)  If anyone can and will help me, I would appreciate a response.


Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

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In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.
    -Eric Schmidt, University of Pennsylvania Commencement Address, 2009

 


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#2 mr.meyer

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 01:11 PM

Have you tried connecting phone to your computer? Perhaps you could download your pic's and stuff. Works with my phone, an older Samsung (with screen locked). Don't know if it would work for you.


Edited by mr.meyer, 17 January 2016 - 01:15 PM.


#3 ScathEnfys

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 02:20 PM

Unless you also encrypted your phone, you should be able to copy your data to your computer. Why's the fingerprint lock not working anyway?
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#4 Hunting.Targ

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 02:35 PM

Have you tried connecting phone to your computer? Perhaps you could download your pic's and stuff. Works with my phone, an older Samsung (with screen locked). Don't know if it would work for you.

 

Excellent and sensible suggestion.  That worked on my old phone, a Samsung Galaxy SIII.  When I connect the phone via USB, Windows Vista shows the device, but no drive stats or [edit] file structure.  I have also tried using the autorun menu to run a Drobpbox sync, and dropbox is unable to sync the files.  I suspect that the lock locks out the entire memory from access; i.e. the device's CPU is mediating data access based on the phone's security state.  It's a great security feature (keeps a thief from stealing personal data, hacking accounts, etc.), but that is the reason I am in this pickle jar.

 

 

Unless you also encrypted your phone, you should be able to copy your data to your computer. Why's the fingerprint lock not working anyway?

 

The way the feature is designed to work is, after reading in up to four separate fingerprints (multiple finger locations and angles help), the home key will perform a basic fingerprint read before unlocking the phone.  5 consecutive failed tries and it will only accept the backup password until the phone is unlocked again.

I read Samsung's online tutorial, and performed a basic 'software battery reset', and the security state did not reset.  As far as I can tell, the phone was not made to be opened by the user or even service provider reps, only factory service technicians.  So I cannot remove the SIM card, the battery, or the memory card without risk of damage.  As I said, pickle jar.


Edited by Hunting.Targ, 17 January 2016 - 02:36 PM.

Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

-H.H. Williams

 

In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.
    -Eric Schmidt, University of Pennsylvania Commencement Address, 2009

 


#5 britechguy

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 07:36 PM

Why would removing the battery or SD card cause damage?  It is entirely possible for the phone to drain the battery entirely on its own, over a period of days, and running out of juice shoudn't make any difference one way or the other since this sort of lock-out is handled in non-volatile memory (as is pretty much everything else on smartphones, too).  The microSD card is hot swappable and should also be able to be taken out without issue.

 

This won't solve your lock-out problem, but if there are things you want to get from the microSD card I'd just pop it out.  If the battery's already out of the phone it can't possibly touch anything related to the SIM or the microSD cards.


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#6 Hunting.Targ

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 10:56 PM

Getting to the SD card is the difficulty.  It's easy enough to remove the SD card and battery on my Galaxy SIII.  For my Note5 it's not even mentioned in the tutorial.  Examining the case, it looks to me like it was not made to be opened except at a factory-authorized service center by a trained technician.  It's a physical access problem.

-----

Upon more digging, I found this in the manual:

 

Samsung KNOX™ is Samsung’s security platform and is a mark for a Samsung device tested for security with enterprise use in mind. Additional licensing fee may be required. For more information about Knox, please refer to:
www.samsung.com/us/knox

Samsung's digest on Knox.

 

I may be well and truly hosed on this one, unless I want to pay a data recovery service.  One more mark in the school of hard knocks.  At least I have a thief-resistant phone!


Edited by Hunting.Targ, 17 January 2016 - 10:58 PM.

Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

-H.H. Williams

 

In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.
    -Eric Schmidt, University of Pennsylvania Commencement Address, 2009

 


#7 britechguy

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 11:10 AM

I hadn't realized that we're not really talking about a "regular smartphone" here, but a phablet.  I'm so used to the idea of both the battery and microSD card being "pop-outable" on a conventional smartphone that this is what I thought would be the case here.

 

A friend of mine has the Note, I believe, and now that that has registered I know it's different.  Does it actually use a microSD card internally for storage?

 

In any case, and I do feel badly for you, you've now learned the hard lesson about "playing with" security options and keeping meticulous records if you're going to do so.  Since the vast majority of security with any portable device comes down to physical possession, I always encourage my clients to use the least amount of security necessary to foil your "average thief or average phone finder" unless you've got something extremely sensitive on the phone that's also unencrypted and not password protected (which if it's both, it probably shouldn't be).  If someone is absolutely determined to hack into your phone, has it in their possession, and the data is unencrypted it's highly likely that they'll find a way.  This isn't the characteristic of your average thief or average phone finder.  Having the lock screen display an alternate phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached will virtually always result in your being reunited with your phone if it has not been stolen, and most people aren't going to spend hours figuring out your lock code, lock tap sequence, etc.


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

      Memory is a crazy woman that hoards rags and throws away food.

                    ~ Austin O'Malley

 

 

 

              

 


#8 Hunting.Targ

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 01:28 PM

A friend of mine has the Note, ... Does it actually use a microSD card internally for storage?

 

Since you brought it up, probably not.  If memory serves, there is no 'upgrade' option for the Note's memory.

 

 

 

In any case, and I do feel badly for you, you've now learned the hard lesson about "playing with" security options and keeping meticulous records if you're going to do so.

 

Your empathy is appreciated.  I do keep a personal password file.  It's a lesson I knew and dropped because my life has been rather crazy lately.  Hence doofenschmirtz.

 

 

  Since the vast majority of security with any portable device comes down to physical possession, I always encourage my clients to use the least amount of security necessary to foil your "average thief or average phone finder" unless you've got something extremely sensitive on the phone that's also unencrypted and not password protected (which if it's both, it probably shouldn't be).  If someone is absolutely determined to hack into your phone, has it in their possession, and the data is unencrypted it's highly likely that they'll find a way.  This isn't the characteristic of your average thief or average phone finder.

 

'Thief-resistant' was a deliberately chosen term.  Most hackers, whatever color hat they wear, are not given to taking physical property.  In principle, hacking takes only expertise, the right tools, and time.  That's why short of encryption (and not always even then), nothing is 'hack-proof'.  It's not a point of making something impossible or even impractical most of the time.  It's a point of making the effort outweigh the potential reward.

As someone who drives around passengers and goods, my phone and my car constitute my livelihood.  Dollar bills can always replace physical property, but not always lost data.  That takes a 'boy scout mentality'.

 

 

Having the lock screen display an alternate phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached will virtually always result in your being reunited with your phone if it has not been stolen, and most people aren't going to spend hours figuring out your lock code, lock tap sequence, etc.

Yes, that was the case with my last phone.  Most people will be honest if it is made easy and comfortable for them.

 

If I have gotten anything out of this, it is a renewed appreciation for security experts and the wide range of problems they address - technical, legal, behavioral, and social.  Thank you all for your time.


Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

-H.H. Williams

 

In a networked world, trust is the most important currency.
    -Eric Schmidt, University of Pennsylvania Commencement Address, 2009

 





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