Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

ACLU Issues Wake-Up Call To Android Service Providers

In complaint to FTC, civil liberties organization accuses AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile of "unfair and deceptive business practices"

The American Civil Liberties Union this week filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that mobile and wireless service providers are failing in their efforts to protect the security of Android devices.

In a blog about Android security, the ACLU suggests that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are engaging in "unfair and deceptive business practices" by failing to warn their customers about known, unpatched security flaws in the Androids they distribute.

The ACLU isn't faulting the service providers for the flaws -- it's complaining that the carriers are too slow to issue the patches that fix them.

"This is in sharp contrast to the norm on the desktop, where Mac and PCs both receive regular security updates directly from Apple and Microsoft," the ACLU says. "Apple also provides regular security updates to mobile devices, such as the iPad and iPhone. And it is standard practice for the companies that make almost all widely used software -- such as operating systems, web browsers and third party applications -- to issue regular updates to their software, including security fixes."

The complaint appears to be the ACLU's attempt to consolidate accountability for the slow patching of vulnerabilities in the Android, which is manufactured in a variety of different form factors by a host of different manufacturers -- all of which are on different patching schedules.

"If the mobile carriers are not going to provide important security updates, the FTC should at a minimum force them to provide device refunds to consumers and allow consumers to terminate their contracts without penalty so that they can switch to a provider who will," the ACLU says.

It will be interesting to see what the FTC does with the complaint. In the past, the commission has levied penalties against companies that failed to maintain good security practices and put their customers at risk of data theft. But in this case, the complaint does not point to any specific breach -- it states that the carriers are deceiving customers by failing to warn them about potential vulnerabilities.

Whatever happens with the FTC, the idea of consolidating accountability for Android patching is a good one. As it stands, Google is responsible for identifying the flaws and fixing them, and it is issuing patches at a record rate -- but it can't ensure that all of the different Android device manufacturers and service providers patch their products quickly. If the FTC sides with the ACLU, then those patches may get out faster -- and Android devices might be safer to use. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
speedo1456
50%
50%
speedo1456,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2014 | 7:44:03 PM
Wake up is needed
Exactly what is needed. There are a lot of security and bug breaches in the Android segment. If this is not attended to at a short while many will go to the mobile windows market.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/13/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-14300
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The docker packages version docker-1.13.1-108.git4ef4b30.el7 as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 (https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHBA-2020:0053) included an incorrect version of runc that was missing multiple bug and security fixes. One of the fixes regressed in th...
CVE-2020-14298
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The version of docker as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 advisory included an incorrect version of runc missing the fix for CVE-2019-5736, which was previously fixed via RHSA-2019:0304. This issue could allow a malicious or compromised container to compromise the co...
CVE-2020-15050
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
An issue was discovered in the Video Extension in Suprema BioStar 2 before 2.8.2. Remote attackers can read arbitrary files from the server via Directory Traversal.
CVE-2020-10987
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The goform/setUsbUnload endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary system commands via the deviceName POST parameter.
CVE-2020-10988
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A hard-coded telnet credential in the tenda_login binary of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows unauthenticated remote attackers to start a telnetd service on the device.