Major flaw in Android phones would let hackers in with just a text
NPR - 07/27/2015
Collin Mulliner, senior research scientist at Northeastern University, says, “In this case Google is not the actual one to blame. It’s ultimately the manufacturer of your phone, in combination possibly with your carrier.”
Android phones are very different from iPhones, for example. Apple runs a closed system. It controls the hardware and software, and it’s fairly easy to ship out a major revamp. The company says 85 percent of iPhone users have the latest operating system, iOS8.
According to security firm F-Secure, 99 percent of mobile malware threats in the first quarter of 2014 were designed to run on Android devices.
Google gives its latest version of Android to manufacturers, who then tweak it as they please. Carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile do more tweaking. The blog Android Central has described the challenge of updating the operating system as an “impossible problem.” Earlier this year, a hole discovered in the Web-browsing appwas left largely unpatched too.
Often, Mulliner says, manufacturers don’t have a financial incentive to fix phones already sold.
“If you can save money by not producing updates, you’re not going to do that,” he says. “Since the market is moving that fast, it sometimes doesn’t make sense for the manufacturer to provide an update.”