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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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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.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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