updated 02:07 pm EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
TouchWiz phones vulnerable, not endemic to Android
News emerged today that many of Samsung's handsets, including the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note, may be vulnerable to a remote data-wipe hack that can be triggered with a single line of code. The hack was detailed and demonstrated by Ravi Borgaonkar at the Ekoparty security conference, and appears to be executable through NFC, a QR code, or a website. The hack appears to affect any Samsung phone or device running the TouchWiz user interface, and it does not appear to affect other Android-powered devices.
Once the hack is initiated, a user has no means of stopping it, meaning that accessing a malicious link, QR code, or NFC tag will begin wiping a user's device. The exploit appears to be based on a default setting in TouchWiz, which dials a code automatically instead of simply displaying it, as is the default setting in stock Android.
Borgaonkar also says that the hack can be expanded upon, including a USSD code that wipes the handset's SIM card.
Currently, the code has been found to work on Samsung's Galaxy Beam, S Advance, Galaxy Ace, and Galaxy S II. The Galaxy Nexus remains unaffected, as it runs stock Android.