Skip to main content

FTC and FCC shine a light on mobile security updates

switching from an iPhone to an Android device
Google began issuing monthly security updates for Android ever since the Stagefright bug was exposed, and companies like Samsung, LG, and Sony committed to the program to also issue updates to their Android devices.

But how exactly are these updates moving along? What is the process of deciding which phones get updates? Do manufacturers communicate to software developers when there are threatening vulnerabilities? These are questions the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission want to find out.

Related Videos

The FTC has issued orders to eight companies, seeking more information about “how they issue security updates to address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.” And the list of companies aren’t restricted to Android device manufacturers.

The orders were sent to Apple, Google, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC. The requests for information cover topics such as when a company decides to disclose a vulnerability to consumers, whether companies offer unlocked variants of devices, what security testing processes each company follows, and more.

“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally,” the FCC said in a blog post.

For operating systems like Android, however, a large reason as to why updates don’t reach consumers is because of carriers. Many carriers delay pushing updates for a considerable length of time, and usually wait for big operating system updates. The FCC has reportedly sent out orders to carriers as well in a separate but parallel inquiry.

The FTC and the FCC want to spotlight the significant delays from device manufacturers and carriers in addressing vulnerabilities, to protect consumers from security threats. The move is undoubtedly positive for consumers — if federal action is taken to improve the time in which manufacturers and carriers push updates, that means more people will be running secure operating systems with fewer vulnerabilities.

If that type of action takes place, it would also be a considerable boon for Google, as it could potentially fix Android’s fragmentation problem.

Editors' Recommendations

Spotify finally adds real-time lyrics support to its mobile apps
Spotify app icon on iPhone.

Spotify is finally joining up with Apple and Google in offering lyrics support in its music streaming app. After just over a year of testing in a handful of international markets, the company today announced the global rollout of lyrics support to all of its apps for both free and premium subscribers.

"Lyrics are one of the most requested features from listeners across the globe. So after iterating and testing, we’ve created an experience that’s simple and interactive -- and even shareable. By partnering with Musixmatch, we’re bringing song lyrics to life through in-app access across the majority of our extensive library of tracks," Spotify announced on Thursday.

Read more
How to turn your old phone into a security camera

Just because your smartphone is a couple of generations old doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use. When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech. So instead of throwing it away or reselling it for less than what you paid originally, why not repurpose the device and turn your old smartphone into a security camera?

There are dozens of incredible Android and iOS apps that can transform your phone into a useful smart home fixture and surprisingly smart security camera (especially if you are willing to mount it on a wall near an outlet for power), as well as myriad low-cost accessories that can add extra functionality to your device. Below you'll find a quick roundup of the best options available, starting with Alfred.

Read more
Big Moto Edge Plus software update adds Android 11 and mobile desktop feature
motorola moto edge plus verizon android 11 update news ready for

Own a Motorola Moto Edge Plus, or considering getting one? There’s good news on the software front as an Android 11 update is headed to the phone very soon, along with a new set of features called “Ready For,” where your phone can be connected to other devices for a big-screen experience.

To access Ready For, the Edge Plus connects to a TV or monitor using a USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to USB-C cable, where the Ready For Experience Hub pops up to guide you through the new functionality. At its heart, Ready For works a little like Samsung’s DeX, where you view multiple windows, documents, videos, and images on a larger screen just like if you were using a desktop computer. The Moto Edge Plus also works with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to complete the desktop-like experience.

Read more