Millions of Android smartphones are left vulnerable as wireless phone carriers and handset manufacturers refuse to launch existing software security fixes to devices within an adequate timeframe.
Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, said that unlike the iPhone, which sees Apple having power over carriers and also controlling the release of software updates to its devices, Android users are unable to receive an update on their phone without the carrier’s involvement. "The phones have to contact a server run by the carrier in order to get an update."
The update schedule of bug fixes coming from wireless carriers or hardware makers can take up to a year or longer to come to fruition. "When Apple decides that it’s going to give a security update to consumers or a feature update, every consumer who plugs their phone into their computer gets the update whether or not their respective regional carrier likes it," Soghoian said at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit.
With Android, "you get updates when the carrier wants it and when the hardware manufacturer wants it, and usually that’s not very often." He added, "This is not an instance where I’m criticizing Google for not fixing the bugs. Google’s team will usually fix it very promptly and make it available to all of their hardware partners. The problem here is that fixes for critical security vulnerabilities are simply not getting downstream and reaching consumers."
"You don’t need [a zero-day exploit] to attack most Android devices if consumers are running 13-month old software," Soghoian continued. He said that carriers need to accept responsibility for the devices they’re selling or leave the control of updates to Google. However, he believes that won't happen unless the government intervenes and applies pressure.
During the third quarter of 2012, the amount of Android malware surged by a considerable amount, with each new exploit becoming more sophisticated.
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Yet, another reason to root your phoneReply
This has been one of the most frustrating things being an Android owner. The ridiculousness of the manufacturer having to submit build after build is outrageous. Verizon made Motorola submit at least 10 ICS builds for the Bionic before one ever got approved, and it wasn't because of how well the builds were but fights over bloatware and what could be frozen without root.Reply
This is one thing Apple does right with the iPhone. Google needs to push their weight around with carriers in support of their OEM's.
MoesfuryYet, another reason to root your phoneA person whouldnt have to risk bricking their phone, voiding their warranty, increasing the cost of service only to get timely upgrades.Reply
Rooting should be done by enthusiasts, not seen as something the average typical user should do.
All OS's have their downfalls. iPhone is safe, but not really customizable. Android is customizable, but not very safe. "Oh but you can this and that" well you shouldn't have too.Reply
If carriers get hit by a handful of class-action lawsuits for billing usage generated by malware that should have been prevented by OS upgrades carriers never rolled out and that end-users could not install themselves due to DMCA, with courts telling carriers refund and eat future usage costs until they fix their phones, things may start moving more quickly.Reply
If carriers refuse to update phones and refuse to let susbcribers update their own phones, carriers should be responsible for malware data usage since this effectively means carriers refuse to do the minimum effort required to reduce the likelihood of malware getting on their devices.
sacreAll OS's have their downfalls. iPhone is safe, but not really customizable. Android is customizable, but not very safe. "Oh but you can this and that" well you shouldn't have too.Reply
That's why there needs to be a middle of the road OS, something that is more controlled then Android, but less controlled then iOS. Finding a way to standardize more internal hardware would help things rollout faster maybe? Or maybe make it so Samsung, Motorola, HTC, ect can all give you updates by plugging into your computer, bypassing the carrier crap they go through. I am sure this is against the contracts phone makers sign though.
Anyone correct me if I am wrong :)
otacon72It will NEVER happen because of the ToS you agreed to when you signed up for your plan.A ToS doesn't always mean you are off the hook in court.Reply
Gundam288A ToS doesn't always mean you are off the hook in court.I agree. Our congress critters are also free to pass legislation making carriers liable. You know, it'd be nice if they did something actually useful.Reply
Why don't carriers do the updates? It ups the experience and its beneficial to them...Reply
otacon72It will NEVER happen because of the ToS you agreed to when you signed up for your plan.Companies put tons of crap in their contracts, ToS, etc. that does not hold water in court or gets abused in ways that courts may rule unconscionable - clauses that courts rule no sane person would accept unless they were forced to or otherwise had little to no other choice.Reply
IIRC, the arbitration clause many carriers put in their contracts to dissuade people from taking carriers to court got struck down a couple of times by judges saying such clauses are anti-constitutional and therefore void.