Bad news for Fragmandroid: FCC and FTC launch inquiry over mobile security updates

“Smartphone makers such as Apple Inc. and Google and mobile carriers including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. face an inquiry by U.S. regulators into how they review and release security updates to combat cyberthieves and Internet vandals,” Todd Shields reports for Bloomberg.

“‘We are concerned’ that ‘there are significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched,’ the FCC said in a sample of letters sent to companies that the agency posted on its website,” Shields reports. “The FCC sent letters to the top four U.S. wireless providers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile Inc. and Sprint Corp. — as well as to U.S. Cellular Corp. and TracFone Wireless Inc., said Neil Grace, a spokesman for the agency.”

Shields reports, “The FTC said it had ordered eight companies to explain the process for issuing security updates: Apple, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, BlackBerry Ltd., HTC America Inc., LG Electronics USA Inc., Microsoft Corp., Motorola Mobility LLC and Samsung Electronics America Inc. The companies are to list the mobile devices they’ve offered for sale in the U.S. since August 2013, the vulnerabilities associated with the gear, and whether they’ve offered patches, the FTC said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bwahahahahaha!

Enjoy the inquiry, Google et al.

Apple’s going to come out smelling like a rose and Samsung and the rest of the iPhone knockoff peddlers are going to end up smelling like the Google Fragmandroid cesspool in which they live.

Now to be fair, this is only because Android is an inferior product peddled to cheapskate tech illiterates who do not value their privacy and/or who are unable to recognize a half-assed knockoff from the revolutionary original.

Android is a BlackBerry clone that was hastily rejiggered at the last minute to mimic iPhone in a panic by Google. Obviously, mistakes were made and corners were cut.

So, the Android rush-job is a privacy and security nightmare. It’s a fragmented morass. It’s too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s crap-by-committee lowest-common-denominator junk.

And anyone who rewards blatant thieves by settling for Android garbage deserves their fate.

SEE ALSO:
Google’s flawed Android is essentially unfixable – May 2, 2016
Apple’s deep commitment to security – April 18, 2016
Apple: We have the ‘most effective security organization in the world’ – April 16, 2016
85% of mobile device failures occur on Android, with Samsung leading the way – February 23, 2016
More than 90% of Android devices are running out-dated, insecure operating system versions – January 27, 2016
Dangerous new zero-day flaw affects more than two-thirds of all Android devices – January 20, 2016
Android malware steals one-time passcodes, a crucial defense for online banking – January 14, 2016
New Android malware is so bad, you’d better off buying a new phone – November 6, 2015
Apple issues iPhone manifesto; blasts Android’s lack of updates, lack of privacy, rampant malware – August 10, 2015
New Android malware strains to top 2 million by end of 2015 – July 1, 2015
Symantec: 1 in 5 Android apps is malware – April 25, 2015
Kaspersky Lab Director: Over 98% of mobile malware targets Android because it’s much, much easier to exploit than iOS – January 15, 2015
Security experts: Malware spreading to millions on Android phones – November 21, 2014
There’s practically no iOS malware, thanks to Apple’s smart control over app distribution – June 13, 2014
F-Secure: Android accounted for 99% of new mobile malware in Q1 2014 – April 30, 2014
Google’s Sundar Pichai: Android not designed to be safe; if I wrote malware, I’d target Android, too – February 27, 2014
Cisco: Android the target of 99 percent of world’s mobile malware – January 17, 2014
U.S. DHS, FBI warn of malware threats to Android mobile devices – August 27, 2013

14 Comments

  1. The carriers should offer an unlock option and hand over updates to something like Cyanogenmod for older Android devices. Its obvious they have no plans to update any of them.

    1. Unlock wouldn’t help; it would only allow you to stick another carrier’s SIM card into your phone.

      The only possible option would be for carriers to allow users to root their phones, and this is essentially the technological equivalent of jailbreaking; in other words, it will never be officially sanctioned by anyone. Not by the carrier, not by the phone maker, not by Google (the OS developer).

      It seems to be that the only phone maker in the world that was able to break the carrier stranglehold was Apple. No other phone maker has succeeded before or since. And if FCC / FTC succeed, they will manage what no other maker (other than Apple) could: force the carriers to allow manufacturers (or the OS developer — Google) to push updates to the phones directly, circumventing carriers completely.

      There is simply no possible, conceivable way this could be made to reliably work. Android is a colossal mess that it is precisely because there are three competing cooks in the kitchen (Google, phone maker, mobile carrier). Each cook puts their own ingredients into this soup. When Google releases updates and patches, manufacturer takes his own sweet time to implement the update / patch, making sure their own custom crapware works properly. They pass this modified update on to the carrier, who now gets to decide if they even want to bother updating that particular model or not. If yes, they then take their sweet time making sure their own crapware works properly with Google’s new update, plus manufacturer’s custom crapware. When you have crapware on top of crapware (on top of crap OS to begin with), you know what you’re getting (crap).

      In this chain of events, I can’t possibly see how FTC or FCC can cause any meaningful changes, regardless of their best possible intentions and enforcement power.

      1. I meant root the device, not unlock it, my bad.

        To me its a pretty simple situation. Either the carrier commits to updating the phone in a timely fashion or they hand it off to someone who is willing to do it.

        1. The beauty is that it is not that simple. There is simply no way a carrier can offload the updating to someone else when they have a boatload of their own custom crapware on those phone, not to mention custom versions of some main system components (such as configuration and customisation panels for basic phone features). No third party can work with those (nor does a third party exist that would even touch such crappified OS with a ten-foot pole).

          In the Android world, the only device that can be properly update is the Nexus. It is sold by Google, it has no crapware from anyone, it is made to Google’s specifications and sold at full price, to be used with any carrier, where such carrier acts like a dumb pipe (same as with the iPhone). And as we all know, Nexus represents a fairly minuscule share of the Android market.

          1. I think the point of rooting the phone is overriding what the carrier placed on the phone.. The same reason Android is less secure is also the reason it is much easier to root than iPhones. Do a search and you could probably find a Cyanogen version for your Android device. I don’t remember many articles about Android OEMs or carriers for that matter working as hard to prevent rooting as Apple does. It would be interesting to do a survey of Android devices running rooted OSes now.

            1. Some years ago, I had an LG android device (Gingerbread at the time). Rooting wasn’t too laborious or challenging, so I did it, which allowed me to enable WiFi sharing. However, getting a custom ROM (Cyanogen or anything else), while also available and plentiful (various versions and configurations) was, at least for me, a prohibitively time-consuming process. I didn’t bother and instead got an iPhone 5 (at the time).

              I wouldn’t be surprised if only a fraction of 1% of all Android users did a custom ROM installation. Most are oblivious to this option, and even among those who know about it, the process simply requires too much time for research and preparation. If I were to guess, the percentage isn’t much higher than that of jailbroken iPhones.

  2. The last phone I had before the iPhone was a flip-top phone. Can’t remember what make it was. I had it for 3+ years and never updated it. That was until it stopped working. I took it into a verizon shop and they said the software was so out of date that is was no longer compatible with changes in the network. They told me to go away for 30 mins and when I came back they had upgraded the phone. There were quite a lot of new features that I had apparently been lacking for a year or so.
    That’s the difference between Apple and other phone manufacturers / carriers. Apple wants all customers to have the best experience possible. The others want to just push out as many phones as they can. They don’t care what happens afterwards.
    We bitch and moan that Apple don’t sell the latest and greatest. That’s because they want a product that works well. Throwing a lot of tech specs and software together in a random fashion and not supporting it later leads to a product that may look good on the outside but has poor performance and design.

  3. I remember my one and only grapple with an Android phone (it was a gift). After less than two years it began misbehaving. Every night at 2:00 AM (!!!!) it would go into a reboot loop turning on its screen and loudly shouting the word ‘DROID!’ as it did whenever it was booted. The only way to stop this annoying habit was to turn it off and on. Since it was my only phone I felt I had to keep it on all night.

    The manufacturer, the phone company and Google all pointed fingers at each other. Nobody would take responsibility for fixing this problem. This was on top of the fact that I received only ONE of the three major OS updates that were put out during this two year period. Grrrr…..

    That is when I got my first iPhone. 🙂 I still have it. It is a 4S that runs the current operating system and while slow works very well. I plan to replace it with the iPhone 7 later this year.

    Fool me once…..

    1. Because it’s a national security threat. What would happen if a nefarious actor pushed a button and shutdown the majority of Android handsets? Business would be interrupted, the markets would tank, citizens would be at the capital steps with pitchforks and torches, etc. Communication and Internet access is vital to each nation’s security and safety.

      In the U.S. around half the communication devices are Android based. In Europe the number of Android devices is around seventy precent. For many people these Android devices are their only access to the outside world. It’s a problem when the vast majority of these devices don’t have the latest patches and are susceptible to cyber attacks.

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