Do you need to take some "security" steps with a used Android phone/tablet, bought on eBay?

I just received my NEW Samsung Galaxy View T677A 18.4" 64GB WiFi & 4G Unlocked AT&T T-mobile Tablet.
Well, not actually “new”, the item description actually says:

This Tablet is a overstock/ Customer trade in carrier or Store return in “New Other” condition and is fully functional, Cosmetically 9 out of 10 condition : We purchase the Unit only in large wholesale lots. We then add the accessories prior to resale, Included Will Be, Tablet, Stand, Generic High Quality Charger, Micro USB Cable. ThisTablet is Already unlocked For any GSM sim card , IMEI was not reported lost or stolen.

This is my very first time buying a “used” phone/tablet from ebay. I have never been interested in mobile stuff. I just do not have time for it, mostly because it simply changes too fast. So I am completely out of touch about anything Android rooting and rom reinstalling related.
Although now, I am actually worried, if I should be…

  1. Should I be worried that the tablet may be maliciously pre-installed with some bad malware or viruses? My worst case paranoia scenario is I connect this tablet to my home wi-fi and it infects my home computers with crypto viruses… Am I totally stupid, or would this be actually possible?

  2. Are there any recommended steps to do, with a “used” Android phone/tablet from eBay? I mean, to ensure that thing is not a Pandora’s box…?

  3. Lastly, can this tablet be rooted? Or where should I look for “trusted” informatin on rooting it? XDA Forums?

  4. I bought this tablet for my 95 year old grandmother :slight_smile: The only thing she’s gonna be using it for - will be Skype. The current Samsung Note 10.1 works kinda OK, but I needed something very simple to use, with a bigger screen. The touchscreen was a must, obviously. I decided on this android tablet.
    I had problems with Skype on Android constantly (I basically hate Skype for a long time now). I live in US now and my grandma is back in Europe. I was thinking of using TeamViewer to connect and control this tablet, if or rather when it misbehaves.
    The actual question: I was wondering, maybe there are some even better solutions to “manage” android device remotely?

Sorry for this last question. The last time I rooted anything, was probably more than 5 years ago… Like i said, I just don’t have time to keep up with mobile stuff anymore… These last years I simply bought new phones, which I liked as they came by default. Hence, I did not have to, nor did I do any tinkering with them. Like my current ZTE Axon 7. I’m perfectly happy with it as it is.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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I typically recommend to do a system wipe through the android settings, even if the seller claims to have done one.

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Yep just do a factory reset and you’re good.

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Thanks, @Magnus_Python @anon46267848

That’s what I was wondering - if it’s enough to do a factory reset.

Couldn’t some bad actor unlock the bootloader, install compromised firmware, then re-lock the bootloader?

I mean, it seems unlikely.

You can typically reflash the bootloader though

If youre really paranoid, just flash TWRP, flash a new rom, and youre basically set

@Ruffalo Exactly what I (or rather my paranoia) was thinking…

@RotaryWombat I have been googling and browsing XDA for the last couple of hours. It seems I’m SOL with my AT&T model when it comes to rooting or flashing anything… Or am I wrong?

What you need to research here is whether your phone’s bootloader can be unlocked. Many American cell carriers don’t allow that, because they’re jerks. If they don’t allow unlocking, you’re all good.

I flashed Lineage OS but I also wear the tinfoil hat :slight_smile:

People buying stuff on ebay are not that important, sorry. No ones going to waste their time on that when they could just be using that time to buy and sell more stuff.

The only realistic scenario that would occur would be a government actor or researcher, both very unlikely because its far to niche and limited for a government actor and would never get ethical approval for a researcher.

More realistic maybe would be someone doing their own little side project for fun, in which case buy from someone who’s selling large stocks of stuff as its their business.

In either case, @Magnus_Python’s answer is the best. So long as its the stock OS and isn’t rooted already, just factory reset it.

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@caprica I would love to flash LineageOS, too.

  1. is your tablet also an AT&T (T677A) model?
  2. Do you have some way to enable portrait mode with LinegaeOS?
    I felt really silly, when I realized that this tablet does not have a gyroscope and there is not way to rotate the view in to portrait mode… I still have no idea, why in hell would they do that?

Sorry, I used a Nexus phone for this so I can’t really say if your tablet is supported. Check the Lineage OS docs.

I did, this tablet is not in the list of devices :frowning:
I was hoping, maybe someone’s smarter than me knows of the way to do this.

Check if someone with good reputation has anything on the XDA forums but I would think that installing roms from untrusted sources is a bigger risk than getting it of amazon either way.

@caprica Yep.

Although, it seems I may have to return it anyways… I have a suspicion, that I have found, why someone probably returned this unit in the first place, as overall it looks like a totally new device.

The touch screen pretty much does not work when using my fingers. it either completely does not register the taps, or sometimes it registers a them somewhere just around the point I actually pressed - slightly on either side or slightly higher or lower. It drives me nuts. For example - going through settings using a finger is pretty much a no go. I either keep pressing more than 10 times or going to some other sub-menu, than I actually wanted :anger:

The tap and hold completely does not work with a finger. For example - I tried for 10 minutes to delete an app shortcut from the desktop, as in - tap and hold, wait for the bin and drag to remove…
Could not do it even once and gave up after 10+ minutes. :angry:

At the same time, weirdly, it works perfectly if I use a “touch-pen” with a rubber end. It’s a simple and cheap thing, no idea even, when did I buy them (I have 2 or 3). Basically, nothing special - but works perfectly.

I am seriously torn, because it was kinda cheap (well, half the price of a new one) and looks brand new. Forcing everyone in my home to use a pen, keeps it clean and away from their greasy fingers :slight_smile:

At the same time - it feels wrong not being able to simply use them fingers. I must confess, I was actually really surprised, how wrong and weird it felt. It made me think, how much of an obvious and intuitive thing - the touch screen control has become in our lives.

PS: Obviously, I would need to buy a good one for my grandma. But I actually like the thing, and kinda want to keep thins one for myself. It is really awesome for watching Youtube, using Plex and even doing some quick web browsing.
Also - a perfect TV for the kitchen, which you can easily take with you and use anywhere else in the house.
Basically, I am really surprised how much I’m liking it. At the same time, it’s the cheapest tablet I have ever bought.