Research claims Android manufacturers dishonest about security

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and David L. Norquist Defense Department comptroller and chief financial officer testify on the fiscal year 2019 defense budget request at a House A

According to the firm there have been almost a dozen patches that were skipped by certain OEMs, which means that some users, and likely a large number of them considering how many Android phones are out there and how many vendors weren't applying the patches as regularly as Google intended, were continuing to use phones that weren't up to date and weren't able to protect their users from current (at the time) security risks that Google was pushing out these patches for. The team's findings are the result of testing 1,200 Android handsets from all the major manufacturers over the course of two years, examining whether manufacturers had offered the security patches as advertised.

Some Android vendors are purposefully lying about the latest security update on their phones. This refers to a scenario where the phone's software would claim it was up to date with security patches but actually missed number of patches.

Android is a mess.

According to a report by Wired, such incidents were not one offs either. Out of the 1,200 phones that were tested by the firm, including devices from Google (the primary source for updates to Pixel phones), Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and TCL, the issue impacted even the flagship models from the likes of Samsung and Sony.

The researchers did find a correlation between skipped patches and chipsets, however. Google's phones seem to be safe, however, as the Pixel and Pixel 2 series did not misrepresent what security patches they had. Xiaomi, OnePlus, Nokia jumped as many as three patches.

The lengthy wait for a fix has placed Google on a bad light and the best possible explanation for it is that Google will hope to release the fix through the next-gen Android system, Android P. Android P is expected to make its official release in late June and it is likely to iron out on every problem inside Oreo. Does that necessarily mean that TCL and ZTE are at fault?

Manufacturers tell users that phones are patched up to a certain month, the researchers said, but some months have been skipped, leaving security holes that can be exploited by hackers or Android malware.

The security vendor has a free app, Snoopsnitch, in Google's Play store that attempts to analyse how many patches are installed on Android devices.

As for Google's response to this research, the company acknowledges its importance and has launched an investigation into each device with a noted "patch gap". "We're working with them to improve their detection mechanisms to account for situations where a device uses an alternate security update instead of the Google suggested security update". All of the requisite permissions for the app and the need to access them can be viewed here. Enter your email to be subscribed to our newsletter.

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