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Android Security

Wireless Carriers Put On Notice About Providing Regular Android Security Updates 171

msm1267 writes "Activist Chris Soghoian, who in the past has targeted zero-day brokers with his work, has turned his attention toward wireless carriers and their reluctance to provide regular device updates to Android mobile devices. The lack of updates leaves millions of Android users sometimes upwards of two revs behind in not only feature updates, but patches for security vulnerabilities. 'With Android, the situation is worse than a joke, it’s a crisis,' said Soghoian, principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. 'With Android, you get updates when the carrier and hardware manufacturers want them to go out. Usually, that’s not often because the hardware vendor has thin [profit] margins. Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources. Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.'"
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Wireless Carriers Put On Notice About Providing Regular Android Security Updates

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  • by redback ( 15527 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:23PM (#42789377)

    Handset manufacturers should stop screwing with it so much, if they used pure android it wouldnt be so much work to get updates out.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:36PM (#42789587) Homepage

    Like AT&T Maps; it's $10/month, the one time I used it was by accident because I confused it for Google Maps.

    No, it's not by accident. It's by design. A significant number of people won't be able to parse the difference between AT&T maps and Google Maps. So they'll just pay the dollars until they wise up. If indeed you do wise up, then you have to change their contract to opt out. Then the contract timer starts again.

    They get you coming or going.

    Brilliant strategy.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:41PM (#42789669) Homepage


    Because my iPhone 3G didn't get the last few updates. And courtesy of Apple, it no longer streams Netflix. Because crApple is so incompetent, they can't even manage app versions.

    Case in point. I have iPhon4 and 3G. iPhone 4s are running iOS5 & 6. Which the new Netflix app requires. However, the 3G model is not able to update to iOS5. But iTunes only allows for one instance of an app. So you'll find that you're old phones are now updated to versions of applications they cannot run.

    Get off your high crApple horse. The platform has major suckage. Want to bet $250?

    Move a photo you take with your phone into another folder. (No, don't just create a reference. Actually MOVE IT!!!)

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:43PM (#42789701) Homepage

    If they don't tinker with the OS, how are they supposed to add value?

    Why, with what you're suggesting, they would just be commodity dumb pipes. When has a phone company ever admitted that?

  • by Frojack123 ( 2606639 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:18PM (#42790273)

    I agree, to a certain extent.

    But I also maintain that this is strictly Google's fault (The Open Hanset Alliance).

    They took an operating system, Linux, which always has long the ability to put hardware drivers in dynamically loadable modules and built Android, where they compiled everything into the kernel in one huge binary blob. This is a huge retrograde step in OS design. The kernel should be replaceable without having to replace the driver for every radio, screen, sound chip.

    After all, the radio didn't gain any new functionality between Android releases. The same carrier specific radio "rom" the phone was shipped with should suffice. Just call it dynamically rather than compile it into the kernel. Let us get our kernel updates directly from Google, or the handset manufacturer, and any carrier specific updates from the carrier.

    This is a packaging error.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @06:26PM (#42790385) Homepage

    In previous comments related to carriers and phones, I stated that I am done with carrier games.

    I am done with carriers selling me "discounted" phones which are actually far over-priced when required and unwanted data plans are added to the mix. I am done with carriers and their spyware and bloatware. I am done with carriers controlling the obsolesence of my device by providing late updates or failing to update them at all.

    Long ago I recognized the potential for security issues which predictably would not be managed by the carriers well or at all.

    Apple has it easier and it was by design. There are fewer models of iPhone so everyone is happier. Users know what they've got. The accessory makers are better guaranteed sales of mass produced products. Apple's carriers don't get to corrupt the iPhone and therefore there is more sanity when it comes to user concerns like bugs and security.

    I have a Google Nexus. Not quite my ideal phone, but less expensive than unlocked/unbranded Samsung Galaxy S3. It is more likely to get updates and fixes and within my power to install and use custom ROMs.

    Carriers care more about themselves than their customers. It is clear and evident. Why keep hoping and demanding that they care? Know them for what they are and respond.

  • by Skater ( 41976 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:50AM (#42796423) Homepage Journal

    I have an iPod touch, gen 2, which has been stranded. I wish I could get an update on it. but the CPU on it is too old, so they don't support CPU hog IOS5 on it.

    I hear people complaining about this, and I don't get it. Maybe they don't remember the 80s and 90s when your computer was out of date within a few months, and it wasn't long before you couldn't run the newest and greatest software. Today, computers have a much longer lifetime than they did back then. I point this out because that's where we are with these portable computers (iPhones, Android phones, tablets, etc.) - we're still in that early and fast update phase. Early on, each new iteration was leaps and bounds ahead of the prior one, and the pace is only starting to slow down now. The pace will speed up again if and when better battery technology shows up.

    And, frankly, they pushed out updates for the Touch 2nd Gen for quite some time. Don't act like it was abandoned 3 weeks after they released it, because it wasn't. Updates were available for a long time for it.

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