Android Security Flickr Reuse

Users running millions of Android devices are being warned their data and files could be lost when connected to a PC (via USB) running Windows 10. Simple cleanup operations are resulting in some users permanently losing photos and other files.

At the moment, it seems only Samsung’s newest models are unaffected by the problem. The issue in question stems from an error in the USB MTP connection between Android and Windows 10. If an affected Android-device is connected to Windows 10 via USB and files are moved within the folder structure of the phone, they will disappear. If the files are moved from Android to Windows 10, the files will be deleted from the device, but may not reach the intended destination on the PC.

Not only do the files disappear, they become permanently wiped and cannot be retrieved with recovery tools.

The problem was discovered by Heise and Android users are already flooding to Reddit to vent their frustration. On a personal note, this has happened to me on files that were thankfully on another device too, but I confirm it is something that is genuinely happening.

My older Samsung device had this problem several weeks back. I put it down to a user (me) error at the time, but it is clear now it was this problem. That means the issue has been apparent for some time, but is not starting to be noticed by more and more users.

There are specific actions that cause the problem, although it is unclear if it stems from the Android or Windows 10 side. Moving a file from one directory to another causes this issue to happen. The method of movement (drag and drop or key press) does not make a difference, or the storage source (device or microSD) is unimportant.

Affected Devices and Platforms

Heise tested numerous Android devices and found many of them were affected:

“Android 8: Nexus 6P
Android 7: HTC U11, Nokia 6, OnePlus 3,5, Xiaomi Mi 6, Mi Mix
Android 6: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Lineage OS 7.1.1: Samsung Galaxy S5
Unknown version]: Samsung Galaxy S2, S4 mini
not affected are only newer Samsung devices with Android 7: Galaxy A3, S7 Edge, S8
[Update 30.8. 12:30 a. m.]

According to some letters from the readers:
are not affected either
Blackberry Priv (with Android 6)
Huawei Honor 8
Samsung Galaxy A5 2016, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6 (Android 7), S6 Edge (Android 7), Galaxy Tab A (2016)
This does not apply to devices that do not register via MTP, but rather as USB mass storage devices. These are all with Android 1 and 2 as well as a few with Android 3 and 4. Especially those that were shipped with Android 2 and got an update, but also those with Android 3 and 4 that came without unified memory, but with the old partitioning of the internal memory.

also affected:
HTC 10,8s
Huawei Honor 7 (Android 6), Mate 9, P8 Lite
Lenovo Motorola Moto G3, Moto G5 (Android 7)
LG K8, G5 (Android 7)
Nexus 5X (Android 8)
OnePlus 3T
Sony Xperia Z, Xperia Z5”

It is worth noting that Windows 7 and Windows 8 are not affected by the problem.