Your Android Smartphone Maker Is Lying About Missed Security Updates

Krales  The Verge

When Google realizes new software update, then vendors like Qualcomm and MediaTek test it and make some adjustment and hand it over to Android smartphone makers but they do not test out the Android software across the device.

According to the report, some Android phone makers tell users via the update information within their devices' settings that the latest security patches are installed on their devices when, in fact, they aren't. Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell from Germany's Security Research Labs, discovered that Android smartphone manufacturers are not only guilty of failing to provide customers with security patches and rolling out the updates on time. 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.

The Mountain View company has stated that it will initiate an investigation into all the devices indicated by researchers as guilty of having an actual gap between the patches implemented and those indicated by the manufacturer. "Probably for marketing reasons, they just set the patch level to nearly an arbitrary date, whatever looks best". "Probably for marketing reasons, they just set the patch level to nearly an arbitrary date, whatever looks best", Nohl said.

The phone makers in question aren't specifically revealed by the research company or Wired, which first reported the findings. In the worst cases, Nohl says that phone manufacturers intentionally misrepresented when the device had last been patched.

The vendors instead allegedly moved the patch date forward by several months.

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SRL has updated its SnoopSnitch app to show authentic patch information for your phone, and will issue a bug-squashing release at the end of the week, Nohl explains. This could explain why one Samsung device, the J5 from 2016, didn't miss any patches but the budget J3 from the same year omitted 12 of them. Google also reportedly points out that some devices may have had updates skipped due to vendors simply removing a feature that had the vulnerability as opposed to sending out an update, which would likely be a quicker process.

"Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users", said Scott Roberts, security lead for Android products, in a statement to Wired.

"Single missing patches are not by themselves a cause for concern, since most Android hacks require a chain of multiple bugs", Nohl elaborates. In a somewhat better grouping, each Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nokia phone tested had between one and three missed patches.

"Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important", he said. And Android's fragmentation is a problem that remains unsolved. Big technology giants like Google, Samsung, and Sony hold the most incredible record in terms of installing the patches.

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