Some Android phone manufacturers are lying to users about missed security updates

According to Wired, SRL tested firmware from 1,200 phones from companies like Google, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LTE, and TCL for every Android patch released past year.

All that said, Google has reportedly pointed out some details which are worth considering - some of the devices may not have been Android certified devices which means they wouldn't be offering the same standard of security updates as Google and other more trusted OEMs.

Some Android OEMs are have reportedly been skipping security patches according to a security research firm called Security Research Labs, which mentioned the issue last week on Friday, April 6 at a conference in Amsterdam. As many as a dozen patches could be absent, the research found. Google has been putting together monthly security patches for the Android operating system, to patch any vulnerabilities they find in the operating system. Still, the idea that some OEMs are saying that these patches are installed on your device when they're not is unsettling. The phones all claim to have received at least one security update since October 2017. On the other hand, Samsung, Qualcomm, and HiSilicon were far less likely to miss providing security patches for devices running on their chipsets. It also highlighted Android's core security features, which have made hacking even unpatched phones more hard, and counters that some of the missing patches may have been down to companies leaving out the features they relate to.

As the report also points out, just because your phone might be missing a security update or two, that doesn't mean that it's easily hackable.

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Actually taking advantage of unpatched phones is still a tricky matter, and the security risk is nearly certainly still higher from simply downloading a compromised app.

Due to these findings, SRL has updated its SnoopSnitch app, allowing Android phone users to get an accurate breakdown of which updates have and haven't been installed. However, does this excuse manufacturers who say their devices are fully updated when they are not? While companies like Google, Samsung, and Sony only missed a few security patches, ZTE and TCL claimed to have installed four or more security patches that they actually didn't at all. Nohl and Lell have dubbed it the "patch gap": a discrepancy between the patches available and what's actually been included.

It would seem that your brand-spanking new Android phone is not as secure as you think it might be. Huawei, HTC, Motorola, and LG were found to be lacking as many as four, and ZTE and TCL were missing more than four updates in many cases.

Even more alarming than the number of missed patches is that Security Research Labs states that some vendors weren't just foregoing the patch updates, but going so far as to actively alter the date and version number of the patch to show as if the security update was applied even when it really wasn't.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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