Android Smartphone Makers Have Been Misleading Users About Security Patches!

Can You Safely Use The Android App ShowBox

An issue with the Android ecosystem is that it is sprawled across many devices and chipsets, often requiring manufacturers to test and integrate firmware updates and release dozens of patches for their devices every month.

Security researchers have accused some Android device makers of misleading users about whether or not devices are being patched.

In response to Google's statement, SRL's Karsten Nohl said that while it's unlikely that OEMs have gone as far as circumventing a patch to cover a vulnerability, he agrees that it most hackers will find it hard to hack an Android phone because of the OS's base security features like the randomization of file addresses and app sandboxing.

They blogged about the Android ecosystem having a hidden patch gap, and warned that most Android vendors regularly forget to include some patches, leaving parts of the ecosystem exposed to the underlying risks. While Google's Pixel devices have a flawless record with security patches, the researchers found that even top-tier phone makers claimed to have security patches installed, when they were actually missing. Because of the structure of Android, security updates must be delivered by device manufacturers, and that can cause some delays.

SRL noted that missed patches doesn't necessarily mean that hackers have an easy time breaking into Android phones. Compared to flagships, cheaper phones are found to be skipping more patches, which also tend to use cheaper chips. Google said it was working with SRL Labs to investigate the results of its report.




Back in 2014 Apple's Tim Cook used a chart in his keynote to mock Android security and quoted ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes who wrote: "Android fragmentation is turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities".

The SRL team has released an app on the Google Play Store named SnoopSnitch that helps users analyze their own device and tells them what patches are missing and if their device is truly up-to-date as the "security patch level" may say in the settings section.

Taking up less than 5 MB, the app is quick to download without using much data, and takes up minimal space on users' phones.

Google said it is investigating the claims and will push any vendor to bring their devices into compliance. "That's deliberate deception, and it's not very common". And Android's fragmentation is a problem that remains unsolved.

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