Your Android Smartphone Maker Is Lying About Missed Security Updates

Your Android Smartphone Maker Is Lying About Missed Security Updates

Google has just released the April 2018 Android security patch for all current Pixel and Nexus devices. Missed patches refer to those that companies claimed to have installed but were found to be missing.

When it comes to the consumer, it gets hard to identify if their device has been actually receiving the security update or not.

The company has moved towards encrypting all data that leave and enter Android devices with the industry-standard Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, and is further tightening the requirements in Android P, which is now in developer preview.

After conducting a research that spanned two years on Android devices, Security Research Labs (SRL), a German security firm claims that many devices had what SRL call a "patch gap".

The researchers told Greenberg that they examined 1,200 handsets for evidence of every Android security patch released in 2017.

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Most non-Google Android phone makers (except for Sony) were once bad at keeping up with security patches.

With Android P, "all traffic should be encrypted, regardless of content, as any unencrypted connections can be used to inject content, increase attack surface for potentially vulnerable client code, or track the user", Android security engineer Chad Brubaker wrote. 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.

Which smartphone maker skipped how many patches?

Does that necessarily mean that TCL and ZTE are at fault? After their investigation, they found that manufacturers like TCL and ZTE are the biggest offenders as their handsets miss more than 4 patches. Nevertheless it still remains that according to SRL, patch updates were still listed as being up to date when they weren't, which might lead some users to wonder going forward if their device has actually been updated with the latest security fixes. SRL notes that the chips the phones used could be part of the problem.

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.

In a statement, Google thanked the researchers for their job. 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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