I never wrote my password down for my old S7 Edge and managed to forget it. Overthinking the security and privacy, I also never signed up for Samsung's service and Google's Find My Phone only recognizes my current phone -- so I can't use those online services to reset the password.

I'm wondering if there's a super-user method to get into the phone (or extract data) without wiping the data with a hard-reset.

In the Android Recovery screen (volume-down, home, and power buttons held simultaneously), I have the "Apply update from ADB" option but sideload seems to be the only functionality and the handshaking seems wrong. The resulting messages on the Android are:

    Finding update package...
    Opening update package...
    E:footer is wrong
    E:signature verification failed

I found online somewhere that the password file for the phone model is in

/data/system/gesture.key and rm /data/system/gesture.key

would be ideally what I'd like to bring about. However, I can't use a command such as adb shell on it without the password. I also haven't figured out a way to inject and run a script (particularly with the handshaking and with adequate privileges for the phone) with that rm command using adb sideload.

More details or seeming dead-ends:

  • The phone was not rooted.
  • I'm fairly certain I enabled USB debugging.
  • It's a SM-G935W8 (Canadian) model with hero21tebmc (firmware?).
  • Samsung's Smart Switch software is also not an option to transfer data (w/o knowing my old password).
  • The third-party software I've seen and tried on a friend's Winwoes laptop doesn't have the password-reset capability on the S7 Edge... it would work if it was an S6 or older unfortunately.
  • the Android Recovery screen has other options including: "Apply update from SD card", "Mount /system", "Wipe cache partition", and the dreaded "Wipe data/factory reset".
  • I'm using a Linux distribution (Ubuntu 18.04) and would use heimdall on the command line (instead of the Odin software).

These links, Official TWRP for Galaxy S7 edge (hero2lte) or Flashing Firmware on Linux/Ubuntu using Heimdall, are likely to be the instructions I'd follow with due care.

If I persist and try to use TWRP or some sort of program to "recover" my data it seems highly likely to wipe it (even if I don't proceed to root it).

Along the same line, I suspect installing LineageOS would wipe the data in the process and there's probably no way to sift through the wreckage of the data (which is probably without pointers/inodes but presumably not outright erased) in some kind of brute-computational-force way either.

Is there any way to get at the data (instead of waiting every hour to try to re-discover a strong and essentially gibberish password)?


You have two problems:

First, when the bootloader is locked, you can not use fastboot. Unlocking will wipe your data. If the bootloader is unlocked, you can just boot twrp without flashing (fastboot boot twrp.img).

Second, the data partition is encrypted, and even if TWRP should be able to manage decryption, the pin is reqired.

You have no other option than brute force. If USB-OTG is working and it is a 4 digit pin, this can be done with Teensy or any other microcontroller. But this may wipe your data after 10 attempts, depending on gatekeeper settings (afaik not for S7).

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