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FTC, FCC Ask Mobile Companies: 'How's Mobile Security Today?'

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on May 17, 2016 9:59 AM

Last week the FTC knocked on the doors of eight mobile device makers and asked them to provide hard answers regarding their efforts to address or patch the latest security vulnerabilities afflicting your mobile device. Simultaneously, it has also opened the doors to citizens inviting comment to the following general question: "How secure is your device?"

"Stagefright"

The announcement comes soon after the discovery of the Android operating system bug known as "Stagefright" that left a gaping hole through which billions of devices could be left to attack. Google has since pledged to release security patches on a monthly basis in order to stay toe-to-toe with potential hackers. The FTC's attempts to get the latest information from the industry's biggest players is broad. It asks them to provide information about what devices were sold within the last three years, what attacks have been made on them, and whether or not the company addressed or fixed the problem.

Other Government Agencies

Other government agencies have also been part of the security information push. The FCC, for example, also made request for information from Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, US Cellular, TracFone, and Verizon Wireless.

Here's a Security "Hole": Obsolescence

Security patches or no, the FTC's investigations might be revealing in the fact that companies are not required to provide details about devices not sold within the last three years. This means that devices could potentially slip under the radar -- even those which have not been updated. Additionally, there is little economic incentive for companies to update devices older than a year. One might even argue that older devices are just as important for the mere fact that companies are less likely to patch gaping security holes in older mobile technology.

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