Some Android Smartphone Manufacturers Hiding Missed Security Updates

iPhone X Style Navigation Gestures may arrive in Android P

It further argued that modern Android phones come with security features that make them hard to hack even when they do have unpatched security vulnerabilities. And as vendors chalk up security points for non-existent patches, end users are left with a false sense of security. For J5 customers, those who checked the status of their devices' security were aware of which patches were installed and which were not. But while manufacturers may install some of the fixes, changing the security update date to the latest available in the process, they can fail to install all of the patches bundled in any particular month's update.

The patch gaps and bugs are found in the chips rather than in its operating system.

Android phone makers could also potentially "miss a patch or two by accident", according to SRL's Karsten Nohl.

As per Nohl and Lell most of the companies are either not rolling out the updates on time, or are simply lying regarding the fact that a latest security update has been installed.

The research spanned every Android security patch released in 2017, and utilised 1,200 different makes of device, including items from major manufacturers such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC, as well as Google's own devices.

Device fragmentation has always been a challenge for Google when releasing updates for its Android platform, which is by far and away the most popular mobile software on the planet. While the smartphones of Sony and Samsung were found to have missed few patches, ZTE and TCL lied about 4 or more updates. More disturbingly, they found out that manufacturers also tell users that their phone's firmware is fully up to date, even while they've skipped patches. The vendor has to primarily depend on the chipmaker to offer a security patch and not the OS. Typically, the phones with MediaTek processor were missing on 9.7 security patches which look to be a grave concern and needs to be looked into.

To sum up the findings, vendors such as Google, Sony, Samsung, Wiki on an average missed between 0-1 patches. On many occasions, it was found that the OEMs were hiding as many as a dozen missed patches. In order to help users tackle the problem, SRL Labs will be releasing an update to its SnoopSnitch Android app that allows users to check their phone's code for the actual state of its security updates.

Google's Android product security lead, Scott Roberts, said: "We're working with [SRL] to improve their detection mechanisms to account for situations where a device uses an alternate security update instead of the Google-suggested security update". Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important. "Owing to this complexity, a few missing patches are usually not enough for a hacker to remotely compromise an Android device", the researchers wrote. Google says that some of the devices in the study may not have been Android certified devices, which means that Google's standards of security would not apply to them.

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