Mobility

FTC seeks to patrol mobile patching

Shutterstock image: mobile device security, continuous monitoring concept.

The Federal Trade Commission is taking an interest in mobile security and has asked eight mobile device manufacturers to share details on their process for sending security updates to patch vulnerabilities in their devices.

FTC commissioners voted 3-0 to send letters to Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics America seeking information on their best practices and approaches to patching potential security flaws in their devices.

The FTC wants to know, for example, how customers are notified of security updates, how long individual devices are supported with updates and how users are informed when a device will no longer be supported. The agency is also collecting information on how manufacturers communicate with supply chain partners, including chipset fabricators and software designers, on vulnerabilities that could have an impact on device security.

They are also interested in finding out what percentage of users actually install security updates and the existence of vulnerabilities that could potentially result in a device running unauthorized code or compromising personally identifiable consumer information.

Through its compulsory information collection, the FTC wants to develop detailed information on the state of mobile security going back to devices sold in August 2013. Companies have 45 days from the May 6 FTC order to comply.

The Federal Communications Commission is also taking an interest in security. Jon Wilkins, chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, sent a letter to mobile carriers requesting information on their processes for reviewing mobile security updates.

"There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user's device, including 'Stagefright' in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally," the FCC press release states.

FCC officials said they would share their findings with the FTC and with industry.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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