SAS: Keeping an Eye on Mobile Devices

Monday, February 4, 2013 @ 06:02 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Mobile devices are continuing their growth curve in the manufacturing automation environment, but it if you look at just how carriers are providing updates to Android devices, you may want to hold off on the BYOD phenomenon.

The lack of updates leaves millions of Android users without an update for up to 16 months, said Chris Soghoian principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) at the at the Kaspersky Lab Security Analyst Summit (SAS) in Puerto Rico Monday.

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“People are putting money ahead of safety and security when it comes to the Internet,” Soghoian said.

Whether you like Apple products or not, Soghoian said they do control what goes on with their platform. If they need to update the OS, then they will send out an upgraded system to download. It is really that simple.

However, with Google, it is not that simple at all. Instead, it can be a difficult task to update Google’s Android system with some of the carriers, he said.

Soghoian did say the update issue was not the fault of Google as they are quick to fix problems when they appear. The problem becomes how quickly patches get out to users.

“With Android, the situation is worse than a joke, it’s a crisis,” Soghoian said. “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.”

“Consumers are not getting updates when they have to,” he said. “That is a security threat.”

With Android malware continuing to rise and consumers falling victim, just how do you get the carriers to act faster to patches that need to go out?

Soghoian said Washington need to get involved. Government needs to get involved to force companies to comply to keep devices safe and secure.

“We have millions of phones running insecure software and no one is doing anything about it,” Soghoian said.