Expired Certificates May Not Be Why Samsung Blu-Ray Players Are Stuck in Boot Loop

  • Samsung’s Blu-Ray players may have “silently” downloaded a bricking XML file after all.
  • The file contains a non-parsable element that is checked upon boot, leading to a kernel crash.
  • Samsung has stayed silent about what has happened, and simply told customers to mail the devices to its repair centers.

According to information shared with The Register by an anonymous tipster, the reason why Samsung Blu-Ray players got stuck in a boot loop isn’t that their hard-coded HTTPS certificates have expired, but that the vendor pushed an invalid XML file to the devices. The problem has been going for over a month now. The only official response from Samsung is to vaguely acknowledge that something went wrong, offering free repair services to the affected customers.

Initially, some suggested that firmware updates caused the problem. Still, then people reported that their devices weren’t connected to the internet when this happened, and there was a wide range of different models running different firmware versions anyway.

Register’s source says the actual reason was an XML file that was downloaded by the devices during periodic logging policy checks at an unsuspecting moment. This file was saved in the device’s flash storage and was to be parsed the next time the device powered up.

parsing XML element
Source: The Register

The XML file contains an empty list element, but the affected devices aren’t able to handle this element, so the result is a crash. Since this file is a log policy file, the device is supposed to parse it during boot, so not being able to parse it means getting stuck in a boot loop.

Even if Samsung pushed an update to the device, it would make no difference since they cannot tap into the boot partition remotely. Therefore, only a mail repair program could address the issue. The reason why users were so surprised by this is that they never saw an update request, were never asked if it’s ok to download the XML policy file, and never even realized this had taken place.

This explanation makes sense since if the problem was with the SSL certificates, Samsung could roll out a firmware update and fix the issue. Still, Samsung hasn’t responded to the Register story, so all of this is unofficial.

The tipster claims that Samsung simply replaced the XML file on June 27, 2020, so any Blu Ray devices that connected to the internet from that date and later aren’t running the risk of getting bricked. The only hope for those of you stuck in an endless reboot loop would be to send your device to the nearest Samsung repair center.

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