Claims Of Android Phone Makers On Latest Patches Are Falling Apart

Google might split Android security patches to deliver fast updates

Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell from Security Research Labs carried out two years of research across a wide range of Android smartphones, finding that many were not provided with the latest vital security updates as soon as they became available. The Berlin-based team found that many Android phone manufacturers were far behind on updates, or even lying about the last security update applied to the phone. Some of the devices even lacked the official certification from Google's Android security in the first place.

Most non-Google Android phone makers (except for Sony) were once awful at keeping up with security patches. Unfortunately, it looks like many manufacturers are doing a poor job of it, with security researchers this week saying that many vendors simply skip patches and tell users that they are up to date. Another table also shows that companies such as MediaTek had missed about 9.7 patches on average, which is quite a lot when you consider that the security updates are being pushed out by Google to its own devices and to vendors on a monthly basis. According to a blogpost on the website of the firm, they conducted a large study of Android phones, and found "that most Android vendors regularly forget to include some patches", which they say expose the Android ecosystem to many risks.

Android and missing security patches: A report claim OEMS have been lying to users about which security patch update is installed on their phone.

"We found several vendors that didn't install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months", Nohl further revealed.

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What makes it worse as Nohl points out is the fact that it is nearly impossible for the user to know which patches are actually installed. According to the study, phones with Samsung-made chips had much fewer skipped updates. The more alarming detail is not that the security patches had been missed, but rather the number of times that the patches weren't applied.

A possible theory for vendors to skip on patches could be attributed to the chipsets they make use of in their devices.

But hacking an Android device is harder than it seems, as Android phones come with a broader set of security measures like address space layout randomization and sandboxing. Missed patches refer to those that companies claimed to have installed but were found to be missing.

Android has typically been more vulnerable to attack that Apple's iOS platform, however Google has pumped a huge amount of resources into tackling security protection on its devices. "These layers of security-combined with the tremendous diversity of the Android ecosystem-contribute to the researchers' conclusions that remote exploitation of Android devices remains challenging".

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