Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Google’s Response to Claims of Photos Stolen From Pixel Phones Under Repair

Google finally has an update about the mail-in repair hacking allegations that have been reported recently by at least two Pixel phone users. Game designer and author Jane McGonigal was one of the victims who claimed that her phone was hacked after she sent it to Google’s official partnered store for repair. The tech giant has concluded the investigation on the matter and claims that “the issue impacting the user was not related to the device RMA [Return Merchandise Authorization]”. Further, the support team at Google has been in touch with McGonigal to help her secure her account.

The tech giant’s spokesperson Alex Moriconi was quoted by The Verge as saying: “After a thorough investigation, we can say with confidence that the issue impacting the user was not related to the device RMA [Return Merchandise Authorization]. We have worked closely with the user to better understand what occurred and how best to secure the account going forward.”

While Google asserts that the hack is not their fault, there is little clarity on what happened. McGonigal, in a series of tweets earlier this week, claimed that the phone had been ‘delivered’ to Google’s repair facility in Texas according to FedEx. However, Google maintains that it has not received it. It remains unclear if the Pixel phone was intercepted in transit or at Google’s repair facility.

Whatever the case may be, Google has offered McGonigal all the help to secure her account. In a new tweet, she says, “Pixel Support and Google Security have been extremely helpful today I am happy to report”. She also says that Google will work on added security instructions for people who cannot factory reset their phones due to phone damage. While using the mail-in repair option, Google recommends users to reset their phones to prevent any abuse. However, that is not always possible based on the extent of the damage.

McGonigal claims that the hacker logged in to several of her accounts, including Gmail, Dropbox, and Google Drive. The hacker allegedly accessed photos of her in ‘bathing suits, sports bras, form-fitting dresses, and of stitches after surgery.’ Another incident was reported briefly on Reddit where the user claimed that nude photos of his wife and him were shared on his wife’s social media account after the Pixel phone was sent for repair.

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