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Fragmentation may need users wondering who should be patching their Android devices

Android fragmentation has been a significant problem for Android smartphone users, smartphone makers, and developers for a long time. Hardware capabilities of Android devices vary widely and not all smartphone manufacturers are willing to give older smartphones upgrades to the latest versions of Android OS (hoping instead that customers will simply buy a new smartphone).

Security researchers are now saying that the rampant fragmentation in the Android market could leave users vulnerable to attacks. According to the researchers, one of the major problems is that it remains unclear who is responsible for patching the Android operating system on smartphones on the market.
 
The question is should Google, the smartphone maker, or the wireless carrier be offering fixes for security issues. Google often moves quickly to patch security problems, but carriers and smartphone makers that use a customized operating system may drag their feet or simply not offer the fix at all.

This fact, according to security experts, means that the Android operating system leaves users more vulnerable to hackers, scam artists, and malware than competing operating systems.

“You have potentially millions of Androids making their way into the work space, accessing confidential documents,” said Christopher Soghoian, a former Federal Trade Commission technology expert who now works for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s like a really dry forest, and it’s just waiting for a match.”

The researchers say that if a major malware outbreak for Android devices surfaces, the system for updating smartphones using Android could dramatically slow efforts to protect information carried on the devices.

Source: Washington Post



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apple not fragmented????
By luv2liv on 2/8/2013 9:44:29 AM , Rating: -1
how come nobody stressed the fact that Apple is fragmented also?
1g, 2g, and 3g cant even use the latest and greatest iOS 6. the ONLY way to upgrade is buying a new phone.




RE: apple not fragmented????
By JackBurton on 2/8/2013 9:52:25 AM , Rating: 4
Seriously? iOS 6 is compatible will ALL iPhone's with the exception of the first and second gen iPhone's. The 3GS (3rd gen) is compatible, but with limited features.

So let's put that in perspective, the latest iOS is compatible with ALL iPhone's except the 2007 and 2009 versions. Are you seriously calling that "fragmented?" Now compare that to Android where even a year old phone may still be not even have the latest OS available to them.

So yeah, that's why they don't mention iPhone "fragmentation." Because that is not an issue with iPhone's. One of the benefits of a closed system.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By JackBurton on 2/8/2013 9:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
Correction: Second gen iPhone was released in 2008.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By RufusM on 2/8/2013 1:38:53 PM , Rating: 3
Any OS is insecure if you're installing sketchy apps on it or visiting sketchy websites.

Rule #1 of computing and life in general: Don't be stupid.

They have all have their share of vulnerabilities. OS updates that patch vulnerabilities help, but that also doesn't mean everyone and their brother is infected either.

This is a solution looking for a problem and the ubiquitous "security researchers" looking to sell anti-virus solutions to mobile users have a massive incentive to keep this conversation going.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By FaaR on 2/8/2013 7:16:49 PM , Rating: 2
This is a complete fallacy. You CAN'T stay safe with an internet connected device by practising the equivalent of "safe sex". There's just tons of drive-by exploits that will take control of your device through what you believe is a harmless ad banner on a legitimate website, or heck, just by being connected. Port-scan exploits are also very common.

You NEED to stay updated with security fixes, and have a (good) virus and malware scanner installed to be reasonably safe. Anything less is just asking to get hit by something nasty; usually with you not even realizing you've got it, because you have no software installed to alert you to the fact you've been compromised.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By CZroe on 2/8/2013 1:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, only the first-gen ones don't have iOS6 because the iPhone and iPhone 3G were essentially the same phone/generation. The iPhone 3G had a new 3G radio/baseband with GPS but the CPU, GPU, memory, display, and all frequencies were identical. Look at the hardware names: original iPhone is iPhone1,1 while iPhone 3G is iPhone1,2 and iPhone 3GS is iPhone2,1.

That said, Apple arbitrarily distinguished the two and needlessly further fragmented things when they refused to give the original iPhone iOS4 but happily handed it over to iPhone 3G. Even before that, they refused to enable iOS3's A2DP Bluetooth audio playback on the original iPhone claiming that it wouldn't work without more work that they weren't going to do because the hardware was different, which was a bald-faced lie. "A2DP Enabler" for jailbroken iPhones did exactly what it sounds like: Simply enabled playback. It didn't write the software support for the hardware that Apple refused to do, it simple enabled what Apple had disabled and it simply worked.

Just like Android devices, let's not forget that the iOS ecosystem is more than just phones though. There are several more abandoned iOS devices from the iPod to the iPad.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/8/2013 9:58:20 AM , Rating: 2
On the flip-side, the first gen iPad was released in 2010 and didn't get iOS 6.

I'm still scratching my head on that one.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By EnzoFX on 2/8/2013 2:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
It's because of the iPad 1's small amount of ram unfortunately.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/8/2013 9:56:24 AM , Rating: 4
Well, the 3GS came out in 2009 and it got iOS 6. How many other 3.5-year-old smartphones are out there that are still getting major OS updates?

It's neutered all to hell with regards to major iOS 6 features (compared to the 4S and 5), but it at least is compatible with iOS 6 applications and has the latest security updates.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/09/tempting-fate...


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/13, Rating: 0
RE: apple not fragmented????
By retrospooty on 2/8/13, Rating: -1
RE: apple not fragmented????
By Tony Swash on 2/8/13, Rating: -1
RE: apple not fragmented????
By retrospooty on 2/8/2013 11:08:30 AM , Rating: 2
LOL... I cant blame him for that. If I got rich 30 years ago, I would work hard either. I would do nothing but play all day.

His opinion is still valid, its the same thing I have been saying for months, so have many others. The iPhone is lagging behind the competition. Put simply, you can do more with almost any other high end phone on the market. There are alot of missing featuresm and IOS is stagnating, while Android, WP8 and BB10 are improving. If Apple doesnt do something to catch up, sales will start to be effected.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By drycrust3 on 2/8/2013 3:02:06 PM , Rating: 1
Just because a person doesn't do things that gain world wide attention doesn't mean those things aren't important. In some ways developing an internationally known (but now totally obsolete) computer in one's youth is far less important than having well behaved children.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/8/2013 10:16:49 AM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree with you on stagnation and the UI looking the exact same since 2007. It's pathetic.

But the article was talking about keeping users protected from security vulnerabilities and getting timely updates. The 3GS is over three years old and still receiving regular updates.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2013 10:24:55 AM , Rating: 2
"Security" is a non-issue on smartphones in my opinion. Just a straw man argument really. I mean what percentage of these devices even get infected with something? Like 1%, if that?

And, you know, Apple hasn't exactly had the best track record with pushing critical updates. They've been known to let stuff slide for weeks/months.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By jimbojimbo on 2/8/2013 11:12:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's a good thing... for the jailbreakers out there.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By djdjohnson on 2/8/2013 12:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
Somewhere along the line I read that Android phones have over a 30% infection rate. I wish I could find the source on that, though.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Rukkian on 2/8/2013 1:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to see that documentation. The only people that should be able to be infected are those that allow installs from untrusted sources, and then go to infected locations. Most people have no clue how to even do that if they are stupid enough to get infected.

I am not really careful on my rooted phone, have lookout av, but it have never even found 1 issue in 1.5 years I have owned the phone.

I could see 30% of idiots that root their phone and say yes to any prompt, and allow installs from untrusted sources, and go to sites hosting .apk files. The thing is, that probably accounts for about .0001% of android phones out there.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By KoolAidMan1 on 2/8/2013 5:21:32 PM , Rating: 1
Malware gets into Google Play. Their automated filters let 20% of malware slide through. One came through a few days ago that pushes a Trojan onto your PC, and it also uses the microphone to record you and push that recording to the attacker.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Rukkian on 2/11/2013 5:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
Got a link to this? I would love to see it. I am not saying I don't believe you, but I highly doubt it is legit, and not from IphoneRulez.com. Or from some nigerian prince trying to help you with your phone.

While there are probably a few minor bugs that get through Google Play filters (happens to Apple to), what you are suggesting sounds pretty fishy to me.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2013 7:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Somewhere along the line I read that Android phones have over a 30% infection rate. I wish I could find the source on that, though.


Well that just sounds absurd of course. I would like to see that "source", because it can't even be possible for such a high number of devices to be infected.

Data shows most people just use their phones to text, make calls, and light browsing. There's just NO WAY you would get an infection doing that.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By FaaR on 2/8/2013 7:29:55 PM , Rating: 5
About 40% of android phones infected in china and russia: http://www.eweek.com/security/android-malware-rise...

...So yeah, it's possible.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Reclaimer77 on 2/9/2013 9:07:20 AM , Rating: 2
Not relevant. Even if that data is correct, the massive gap between those markets and the US/European market tell me the OS isn't at fault.

Basically you have people in poor countries choosing to willingly install from third party untrustworthy app markets to get out of paying for apps. Has nothing to do with Android.

quote:
"in North America, less than 0.3 percent of users have had a malicious program installed on their phones, according to a recent report by network security firm Kindsight."


This is all that matters.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By retrospooty on 2/9/2013 5:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
exactly, at the company I work at we support over 300 phones, about 50/50 Android and iPhone. We have never once seen a single case of malware on either platform.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By messele on 2/10/2013 7:42:46 AM , Rating: 2
So your own limited experiences are all that matters? Let's see if you hold the same opinion when the billion phone cheapo Android Chinese botnet is inevitably activated at some point in the future because it was "somebody elses problem".

By this point Google will be firmly in bed with the Chinese, or at least they will be under the mistaken impression that they are.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By retrospooty on 2/10/2013 8:13:58 AM , Rating: 2
"So your own limited experiences are all that matters?"

Reading comprehension... No, My own experience managing 100's of Android and iPhones matches the stats posted above. "in North America, less than 0.3 percent of users have had a malicious program installed on their phones"

My point is anyone saying its a huge issue is exaggerating. 3 of 1000 Android users in the US have malware. End of story.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Reclaimer77 on 2/10/2013 9:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
How does it feel to wake up every day and be a complete moron?

quote:
Let's see if you hold the same opinion when the billion phone cheapo Android Chinese botnet is inevitably activated at some point in the future because it was "somebody elses problem".


Uhhh IS there an Android botnet? I think you just made that up.

quote:
By this point Google will be firmly in bed with the Chinese


Who in the hell ISN'T in bed with the Chinese today? You know where every single i-Device is made right? And where all the parts for the i-Devices come from, right? I'll give you one guess.

I took a crap this morning that made more sense then you.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By CaedenV on 2/8/2013 11:55:19 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is also not fragmented in the same way that Android is. All iPhones use Apples software from the ground up. On Android you may have 100 phones that use the same kernel, but then everything else from the bundled packages, to the UI can be from the phone manufacturer, or even your carrier. Personally I have my dobuts about the ability for HTC or Verizon to be able to write secure code for their devices. Even Sammy, who is a bit better than the rest, is probably not as good at writing software as Google is.
On top of that fragmentation, when there are updates then they go out to specific phones. You phone may get it 'quickly' meaning 2-3 months, or someone may drag their feet and you will get it a year out, or you may not get it at all. These updates often patch issues, and so not getting these patches can leave you open to attack.
So yes, apple does have 'fragmentation', but you are talking about 2 flavors of the OS, and the current OS runs on all 'current' devices that could possibly still be under contract or warranty. That is not the kind of fragmentation that causes concern. The release of products which already come with an outdated version of the OS, bundled with a UI from one company, and a buggy integrated software bundle from another company, and the inability to get 'up to date' software in a timely fashion is what causes concern.

When it comes down to it Google needs to take a bit more control over the platform and implement some form of unification at least on the revision level where everyone running v4 can get at least low level updates that plug holes without worry about it affecting the software packages of other vendors. But then again Google is popular because they are very loose with control, and the price is not bad either. I am not sure that Android would have the same level of popularity among manufacturers if they were to lock things down. I know that WP isnt exactly the most manufacturer friendly company out there (and certainly no Android replacement), but they do offer much less fragmentation, and they also provide a fair amount of Apple Lawsuit protection as well.


RE: apple not fragmented????
By Samus on 2/8/2013 12:34:30 PM , Rating: 4
Have you guys seriously tried running IOS6 on the 3GS? Even IOS5 completely ruined the phone...the performance hit is ridiculous. Multitasking restrictions and other disabled features (things that worked in IOS4.x) I think are intentional to force people to upgrade to a newer phone. After all, Apple will let you UPGRADE IOS versions, but never go back...


RE: apple not fragmented????
By av911 on 2/8/2013 2:20:11 PM , Rating: 3
I experience lag even on an iPhone 4 (iOS 6).


RE: apple not fragmented????
By DanaGoyette on 2/9/2013 5:37:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have an iPod Touch 4G sitting in a closet, because it doesn't have enough memory to actually run iOS5 properly.
It regularly idles with only 8 or so megabytes of memory free. (Good luck writing forum posts on a browser that UNLOADS the page when you switch tabs to copy a link.)

My "Usage logs" are full of page upon page of OutOfMemory failures.

Safari also crashed all the time -- and sometimes takes more than one try to get it to STOP crashing on open. My record: 14 crashes on open, within approximately 1 minute, before it finally stayed open on the 15th try.

Browsing... Crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... crash. Open... oh hey, it stayed open this time!
(I seem to recalling it crash again 5 minutes later.)

My response to the Android fragmentation: if the un-upgraded phones get exploited where there's a fix available, the manufacturers and carriers should be legally liable for any damage.


"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard














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