Android phones may not be as secure as they claim

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Security researchers have released a study on Android smartphone manufacturers and security updates for their phones, The Verge reported. The pair looked at 1,200 Android phones, they say, to see if the security updates that had been made available were actually included.

According to a report by Wired, such incidents were not one offs either. A German research firm, Security Research Labs have revealed that most of the smartphone makers fail to roll out security patches to their users and on many occasions they also skip it. According to the firm there have been almost a dozen patches that were skipped by certain OEMs, which means that some users, and likely a large number of them considering how many Android phones are out there and how many vendors weren't applying the patches as regularly as Google intended, were continuing to use phones that weren't up to date and weren't able to protect their users from current (at the time) security risks that Google was pushing out these patches for. The "patch gap" varies between device and manufacturer, but given Google's requirements as listed in the monthly security bulletins-it shouldn't exist at all.

What's The Story Of Android's Security Patches All About? It further argued that modern Android phones come with security features that make them hard to hack even when they do have unpatched security vulnerabilities. This is incredibly simple to fake-even you or I could do it on a rooted device by modifying ro.build.version.security_patch in build.prop.


The research firm tested about 1200 smartphones from makers like Google, Samsung, HTC, TCL and tested their flagship devices. Google's phones seem to be safe, however, as the Pixel and Pixel 2 series did not misrepresent what security patches they had.

Motorola was joined in the three-to-four-missed-patch purgatory by HTC, Huawei and LG.

Missing an update or two may not end up in a device hack, but with a series of patches missing can cause some serious problems with the security of the device. Unsurprisingly, Pixel phones are the best, accurately indicating that they're up to date with security fixes, and devices from Samsung and Sony aren't far behind, maybe only missing one fix out of a larger batch. Does that necessarily mean that TCL and ZTE are at fault? On the other hand, in the OnePlus 5T the test result was inconclusive in the case of 5 patches but the handset has not missed any patch. But in the last couple of years many of them, including Samsung and Motorola, sped up the process and now issue the Google patches within a few weeks. There's no word yet on how exactly Google plans to prevent this situation in the future as there aren't any mandated checks in place from Google to ensure that devices are running the security patch level they claim they are running.

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