Android Phones

Do HTC Sense phones store secret screenshots? Sort of.

June 17, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

HTC

bookmarks

UPDATE: I’ve tested this on four EVO’s and haven’t seen this problem occur, but some users are reporting that they are also seeing it happen on their device. If it does happen on your phone, browse through the folders mentioned and see if any sensitive information is exposed.

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If you read anything today about HTC Sense phones having a “bug” that takes screenshots of your browser history, resist the urge to panic and run screaming through the city streets. What’s actually happening is that HTC Sense phones take snapshots of your bookmarks in order to create thumbnails. That’s it. There’s no random snapshot exposing your banking password and no malicious activity afoot. It’s the very same image that you see when accessing bookmarks through the browser or home screen widget. Update: Some users are reporting they see non-bookmark screenshots as well.

BGR first reported that the Incredible had a “privacy issue” that even a factory reset couldn’t erase, and suggested that all Sense phones may have this problem. However, a factory reset does nothing to erase these images because HTC phones other than the Incredible store these screenshots on the SD card; factory resets erase the ROM, not the SD card. Likewise, a factory reset doesn’t erase the Incredible’s internal storage, which is why the files remain.

Furthermore, these screenshots do not reveal anything that could compromise your data. Since passwords are not displayed onscreen, the phone won’t reveal that information. Navigate to the “.bookmark_thumb1” folder to see for yourself if any of your privacy has been violated. The same thumbnails you use to access bookmarks are the same images stored on the phone. (Incredible owners should use internal storage “emmc” folder).

Want to get rid of these images? It’s simple. Delete/format your SD card like you already would if you were selling the phone. If you have an Incredible, delete the internal storage just as you would if you were getting rid of the phone.